Cloud Computing in Africa
By: Dr Shiyghan Navti
There are many stories that demonstrate Africa’s leadership in implementing innovative solutions that leverage the mobile platform to enable the delivery of services to citizens in remote communities. This creates the perfect backdrop for the next wave of innovation, where IT services are instantly available to end users on request. Over the last few years, significant investment has gone into improving Internet connectivity thorough investment in fibre optics networks. This presents a significant opportunity for African governments, businesses and technology entrepreneurs to join the digital economy.
Local businesses and governments will no longer be constrained by the lack of locally available skills or the need for significant upfront investment in infrastructure. Services can be made accessible to users anytime, where ever they are. Cloud computing enables the delivery of applications and services over wireless Internet networks. Payment terms are very flexible, and in many instances, there is no long-term lock-in. Users only pay for the services they consume. We believe that the cloud computing business model is ideal for delivering affordable services cost effectively to citizens in urban areas and rural communities.
Cloud computing optimizes the use of scarce resources. It consolidates and pools resources, enabling service providers to more efficiently allocate it to end users based on their immediate needs. There are significant economies of scale to be realized from such an approach to IT service delivery. It enables African governments and the private sector institutions to harness the power of Information Technology, even where skill and infrastructure resources are limited. A large segment of African Internet users have adopted public cloud email services from providers such as Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. Many government officials use this medium to communicate on sensitive official matters. Cloud is therefore a business critical medium for communication in Africa today.
A 2014 report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services “Business Agility in the Cloud” conducted a survey that found that 70% of organizations were using cloud services. Below are the benefits of cloud computing as highlighted by participants.
These benefits are not limited to mature market economies. African governments and businesses can also realized these benefits by adapting and aligning the business model to their unique requirements and priorities. The convergence between mobile and cloud is of particular interest. A majority of African citizens access Internet services using mobile devices.
The African cloud strategy has to be mobile enabled. This enables the delivery of accessible and affordable services to every citizen. Just as the fixed line communication infrastructure gap led to the rapid adoption of wireless mobile services in Africa, cloud computing can be accelerated by leveraging the wireless mobile ecosystem. Over the next few years, as broadband penetration continues to improve across Africa, cloud computing will take center stage as Africa’s technological innovation platform of the twenty-first century.
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