Fortunately, within the past decade, there’s been a ‘boom’ in technological infrastructure and its use by both businesses and their patrons. Cloud computing remains a key part in shaping how this trend continues to grow and impact Africa.
This article explores how cloud computing affects our use of modern technology to interact with data, and how this change is taking effect in Africa.
What is Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing involves the management of an extensive network of resources such as data storage, servers, applications, and processing power. More importantly, it provides on-demand access to this network of pooled resources.
It’s a powerful tool that enables businesses to have greater technological abilities at their disposal - for much lower costs than they would be able to procure on their own. In fact, cloud providers typically offer a ‘pay-as-you-go option’ so companies may choose what they want to utilize without worrying about investing significant capital.
There are many cloud computing uses for businesses; for example, data backup for disaster recovery and testing new software to support the scaling of your business. If you partner with an IT service provider like Mustard IT in your area, it may handle these cloud computing aspects for you.
How is Cloud Computing Becoming Sustainable in Africa?
Increased Internet Access via Mobile Networks
Most global internet browsing these days occurs on mobile devices, and certain avenues of interacting with businesses are only available via mobile apps. Unfortunately, many Africans have only had access to slower 2G data speeds through their mobile networks, even within the last few years. Now, that’s finally beginning to change; it’s expected that Africa will see an increase of 60% more mobile users on 3G and 4G in the next year alone.
To supplement this greater access to faster internet speeds on mobile devices, African governments are supporting telecom infrastructure by making various changes in policies. For example, they are cutting down on levies that act as deterrents to outside providers. This increase in mobile connectivity will greatly benefit African economies.
Not only are mobile internet speeds increasing, but more Africans can afford smartphones. As smartphones act as a clear gateway for app usage and avid internet browsing, this is a key factor to cloud computing sustainability. Further, newer smartphone devices have higher capabilities, especially in terms of data loading speeds. Finally, African young adults and youth are better able to use these advanced devices – and teach others how to do so, as well.
More Data Centers Located Across Africa
Data centers are rising across Africa - and cloud companies are taking charge of creating them. Some of these creators are big players like Microsoft, Huawei, and IBM. In turn, African companies have begun using the cloud instead of local servers. With more data servers present in Africa now, latency is less of an issue for those already taking advantage of the cloud. Many banks, for example, have been making use of the cloud for the past 10 years, but data loading speeds were incredibly slow due to data storage on hardware located in other, far-off continents.
Until recently, the demand from African businesses to utilize the cloud wasn’t considered high enough for companies like Amazon (Azure) and Microsoft to invest in data centers here. As can be clearly seen, the rise in data centers represents this shift in demand.
Increased Company Demand for Online Services
Comprising most of this increased demand are businesses that want to incorporate more online services for their clients. Of course, increased internet access for the general population gives them a reason to. Many of these businesses are deciding to use the cloud for storing data and machine learning tools. For example, many companies in the finance and oil sectors have transitioned to the cloud, whereas previously they would store data and use the software on their own local servers.
Additionally, banks can keep track of customer data securely by utilizing the cloud, and have begun using certain AI tools to enhance their customers’ experience. “Digital banks” are on the rise in Africa, and many are at least partially cloud-based. Simultaneously, various governments are finding ways to use the cloud, such as for public service initiatives. Further, the retail industry can use the cloud to reach more customers than ever and to market the right information to the right customers.
Increased Availability of Tech-Savvy IT Staff
We mentioned earlier how there’s an increasing number of younger Africans who are more inclined to take advantage of all technology has to offer. While this pertains to most youth and young adults - who are more likely to engage with technology as the customers of businesses - it also pertains to a rise in talent in the Information Technology (IT) industry in Africa.
“Technology hubs” are popping up all over the continent, presenting great opportunities for young Africans to grow their careers in this sector. In particular, the countries of Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, and South Africa have many of these tech hubs for youth to train in. With such a growing number of tech talent available within Africa itself, cloud providers can hire locally with great confidence.
A Great Opportunity for Cloud Providers
Whilst there is certainly growth in data centers across the continent, the true work is only just beginning.
Unfortunately, Africa’s data center capacity constitutes less than 1% of global capacity; however, as infrastructure improves, internet speeds increase, and a younger generation rises to embrace it, there is much potential to consider.
Companies can take advantage and use faster internet access to their business’ advantage. The time is ripe for cloud providers to fill in the gaps when it comes to speedy use of the cloud in Africa. Those who do so first will be ahead of the game as demand continues to rise. It’s a great opportunity for providers to become deeply embedded within the fabric of the African cloud’s infrastructure.