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Digital transition : Cloud technology in Africa

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Digital transition : Cloud technology in Africa

The emergence of cloud computing in Africa significantly bolsters its digital transformation. The adoption of this technology offers promising prospects to enhance innovation, socio-economic development, and digital sovereignty on the continent.

Rise of cloud technology in Sub-Saharan Africa

Cloud computing has become imperative for companies pursuing significant digital transformation. In 2021, several multinational corporations forged partnerships or introduced offerings to invest in cloud computing in Africa. International cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and Oracle, along with smaller enterprises like Africa Data Centers and Rack Center, are aligning their investments accordingly.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, the African cloud services market is burgeoning, reaching 445 billion USD in 2021 and projected to triple by 2028. The proliferation of data centers on the continent is evident, exemplified by entities like Orange, which operates three data centers in Côte d’Ivoire.

Efforts to promote cloud adoption are underway across the continent. Events like the Huawei Analyst Summit 2022 are organized to advocate for this technology. Additionally, Morocco will host the second edition of the Africa Data Center on June 13, 2024, in Casablanca to showcase this transformative tool.

Advantages of using the cloud

According to Fitzgerald Bony of Orange Business Côte d’Ivoire, the cloud offers operational flexibility and increased efficiency. This technology enables rapid deployment and facilitates secure data storage outsourcing. Additionally, this management tool provides services that support broad digital coverage, thereby improving work efficiency by 30 %. Cloud computing also reduces financial costs and a company’s carbon footprint.

Cloud computing is not merely a passing trend but an essential means of enhancing the region’s digital sovereignty. In 2020, Africa had nearly 100 data centers, representing less than 2 % of the global total. Despite this small proportion, these installations are crucial for repatriating African data abroad. Digital sovereignty relies on nations’ ability to manage their data locally, necessitating efficient, reliable, and secure digital infrastructures.

Main challenges to cloud adoption in Africa

Despite significant growth in cloud adoption, several obstacles hinder the full exploitation of the benefits of this technology. Well-defined regulations must encompass data classification, sensitivity level definitions, and provider certification processes.

Security remains a primary concern in cloud usage despite varying sensitivity levels of sovereign data from one entity to another. However, experienced service providers typically offer high security, mitigating risks associated with outsourcing sensitive data.

Internet access also poses a significant obstacle to cloud computing adoption in Africa, with high costs and latency issues. Additionally, the continent faces infrastructure and technology gaps, often related to the operational environment of businesses. The limited number of available data centers results in high costs for cloud services, thereby limiting access for small businesses.

The future of cloud computing in Africa

The future of cloud computing in Africa appears promising despite some challenges. Projections indicate that the annual growth of data center infrastructure in the region surpasses the global average. The ongoing mobile revolution on the continent primarily drives this progress. The African space provides a favorable ground for establishing a network of quality undersea cables, ensuring optimal broadband interconnections. Additionally, the African youth represent a significant resource for meeting the growing needs of this expanding market.

Growing potential of the cloud market

Private actors continue to demonstrate interest in the technological market in Africa. For instance, Huawei has committed 200 million USD to establish the continent’s first public cloud center. Similarly, Amazon Web Services (AWS) will invest 1.6 billion USD in its virtual storage infrastructure in South Africa by 2029. Local companies like 100 % African Cloud also contribute to this advancement, offering exclusively cloud-based IT services for Francophone Africa.

The establishment of data centers and cloud technologies necessitates the training of specialists in digital technologies. Various initiatives, such as the Huawei ICT Academy, aim to promote skills transfer and digital recognition in Africa. Established in 12 countries in North Africa, this program educates students on cutting-edge technologies, particularly in the fields of artificial intelligence and cloud.

Moreover, Google plans to build dedicated cloud sites interconnected in Lagos, Nairobi, and South Africa. Initiatives like the Association for the Promotion of Digital Technology in Africa aim to encourage adopting and integrating digital technologies, including cloud computing. States could intensify their efforts, notably by establishing sovereign data centers, to support the ambitions of dematerializing public services.

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