1 Dec 2011

African Cloud Providers Face an Uphill Battle

Another month, another cloud launch in Africa – at the end of October we saw Safaricom's George Makori announce the largest native African cloud launched in Kenya, and in November a similar press releases emerged from Vodacom claiming the first cloud launch in South Africa – so is this the Golden Age for the popular ICT service in Africa?

Clearly Safaricom and Vodacom South Africa think so – I’d say that many Africans understand that virtualisation and the growth of data centres in the continent have been a form of cloud computing for years. So why are some naysayers emerging to claim that South African cloud providers will not be able to challenge international players...

They say that South African hosting is not a competitive option, and that these African service providers are going to be priced out of the cloud services market by global heavyweights. However, this overlooks one important thing – Africa has always produced the best solutions for Africans. International aid is not the most effective solution for alleviating African hunger – yet Kenya’s mPesa is raising millions if US$ to help famine victims in East Africa – outstripping event the efforts of the Red Cross – and proudly raising the slogan Kenyans for Kenya. African apps for mHealth & mEducation are successfully aiding those without access to information or treatment, arguably more effectively and durably than international campaigns.

So why should cloud be any different? African governments are ready to lead by example; they know cloud and in particular SaaS will boost local economies, and there’s no reason African service providers shouldn't succeed in providing the hosting service.

I do agree with one point in that article though, local cloud service providers could face an uphill battle in competing with foreign providers, and each other. Any company looking to gain a foot hold in the African market needs to act and needs to act fast, market share and reputation will be everything, so get a cloud offering soon and get it right.

To learn more about Cloud in Africa register for the Cloud Africa event (part of the Com World Series) taking place in Johannesburg 23-24 May 2012 http://cloudafricasummit.com/