[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Cloud adoption is now a necessity

As we have previously highlighted, businesses in Africa are increasingly turning to cloud to improve operational efficiency and COVID-19 is accelerating this adoption. 

In light of the immense challenges that have been brought about by the pandemic especially in 2020, cloud adoption is no longer merely an option; indeed, it is a necessity that promises tremendous rewards across entire organizations.

As IDC notes,  ‘’the region’s enterprises dramatically accelerate their digital transformation journeys, they need to embrace the power of cloud computing and its holy grail – frictionless, hybrid multi-cloud that provides infrastructure-agnostic views and unified management capabilities across all clouds and even legacy data centres’’

IDC has highlighted cloud as the key technology in its five stages of enterprise recovery.  It is the fastest path and natural choice to enable a resilient digital infrastructure. CIOs across the region are aggressively investing in increasing their cloud leverage, and the effectiveness of their cloud strategies will be a critical factor in shaping their competitiveness and growth post-recovery.

African startups are also massively investing in cloud services such as Amazon AWS or Google Cloud, a clear indication of how critical cloud is.

This rise has gone beyond basic office applications. From banks looking to accelerate the rollout of new applications among other things, cloud services are transforming Africa’s productive capacity and emerging as one of the most essential pillars of Africa’s digital transformation.

Data centres

As the demand for cloud services also continues to grow, the demand for data centres also keeps growing.  In fact, Xalam Analytics has previously noted that African data centres are the hottest growth area in the African ICT market. 

South Africa is already Africa’s largest data centre market, accounting for ~60% of the continent’s available MTDC power supply. That colocation gap, however, is set to widen according to Xalam Analytics.  ‘’We anticipate that South Africa will add ten times more colocation power capacity over the next two years than all other African markets combined.’’ the company says.

A new report from The African Data Centres Association (ADCA) and Xalam Analytics also revealed that Africa needs 1000MW and 700 facilities to meet growing demand and bring the rest of the continent onto level terms.

Compared with other Data Centre markets around the world, Africa is unique in the sense it has a population of over 1.3 billion people and with a total landmass of 30,365,000 km and has the potential to create huge demand for Data Centres and the digital services provided by Data Centre facilities.  This is according to data from the “The Cloud and Data Centre Revolution in Africa” report.

To-date only a small portion of the potential demand for African Data Centre space has been met with Africa having a low Data Centre penetration rate compared with other regions.

Early this month, The Raxio Group, a premier pan-African data centre developer and operator, announced that it is establishing and investing in ‘Raxio Kinshasa’, the first in a series of state-of-the-art, privately owned, carrier-neutral, data centres in the DRC. Africa Data Centres, also recently had its Tier III certification renewed by the Uptime Institute for its Nairobi-based data centre.

Data Centres are entering new markets including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Senegal, Tanzania, and Zambia. A trend as notes includes facilities being created as PFMs (Pre-Fabricated Modules), as smaller self-contained Data Centres to be used for network, cloud, wholesale and colocation, suitable for local environments.

As the report from The African Data Centres Association (ADCA) and Xalam Analytics noted “Expanding the breadth of Africa’s data centre capacity is fundamental to reducing latency, optimizing intra-African traffic flows, and slashing operating costs in the broader African economic supply chain,”

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa.

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