[Column] Rahmon Ojukotola: Is Africa ready for working in the cloud?
Cloud computing has made a positive impact on development targets in Africa. The Cloud enables Africans to access storage capacity they would otherwise be unable to afford for free with services such as Google drive or Dropbox.
Africa is ideally placed to benefit significantly from cloud computing, as most businesses are unburdened with legacy in-house servers, which was a hindrance to its adoption in Europe.
The Nigerian government has stated it is committed to the adoption of cloud computing and delivering computing resources to users as needed. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) launched the wireless cloud project to provide a platform for supporting campus-wide wireless access to Internet services in for teaching, learning, research and development in higher education institutions.
Whilst the initiatives have been beneficial, more conducive policies are needed to increase the cloud adoption rate. By adopting cloud computing, the government will be able to more easily exploit and share commodity ICT products and services. It means changing the culture of government to adopt and adapt to the solutions the market provides and not creating unnecessary bespoke approaches such as the wireless cloud project.
Due to the significant benefits offered by cloud computing, the financial services sector in Nigeria has largely adopted cloud technology to provide the infrastructure for its online banking services. At StartCredits our data is stored safely on the cloud to enable collaborative remote access for our data scientists on a continuous basis. Large established businesses in other sectors in Nigeria are very entrenched in business practices, suspicious of new technologies, susceptible to groupthink and highly resistant to change. Educating the decision makers of the benefits to cloud computing is the key to its implementation at these organisations.
Cloud computing offers lower environmental cost and high-energy efficiency, compared to the traditional scattered enterprise data centres in Nigeria. But its adoption is affected by poor infrastructure in electricity, high data cost and low access to high speed Internet. This has led to Nigerian firms partnering with data centres in countries with developed infrastructure. It also explains why the few data centres in Nigeria are concentrated in Lagos where fibre optic internet connection is available to a limited amount of users.
A growing number of customers in Nigeria are becoming mindful of their privacy online and are worried about their sensitive and confidential data stored in the cloud. Investors in cloud computing in Africa, should ensure they price into valuation any potential data protection laws along the lines of GDPR that was recently implemented by the EU.
In summary more needs to be done by government, investors and companies to encourage the widespread adoption of cloud in Africa in order to fully benefit from its positive impact on development.
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