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African cloud uptake set to soar in 'next few years'

African cloud uptake set to soar in 'next few years'

After a slow start, the scene is set for African cloud uptake to soar over the next few years, according to Liquid Telecom's recently published African Cloud report 2017.

"Analysts expect to see a major uptick in access and cloud growth across Africa in the next few years," notes the pan-African telecommunications and network services provider.

It adds, "There are high hopes that Africa could eventually be home to some of the most dynamic and fastest growing cloud markets in the world."

The company reports that multinationals expanding across the continent are doing so on the back of cloud-based infrastructure. "For Africa's proliferating SME sector, cloud-based services provide affordable access to enterprise-grade infrastructure and applications. While for African governments seeking more cost-effective and efficient service delivery, cloud-based services offer a compelling value proposition."

It adds that improved internet access has played a key role in cloud's growing popularity. "A highly mobile and youthful population now relies almost entirely on mobile for digital services, including financial services and other business services and opportunities. This emerging population of digital natives, characterised by an entrepreneurial spirit, is moving directly to cloud-based business.

"At the same time, new terrestrial fibre networks are rolling out rapidly and telcos are looking to generate higher returns on their network investments by bundling fixed and mobile internet and cloud offerings to their vast subscriber bases. In addition, a groundswell of new entertainment streaming services is driving consumer demand for high-speed and fixed-line connectivity, with inevitable impacts on organisational cloud services uptake. In fast-developing regions across Africa, including East Africa and the SADC region, the cloud is likely to get a significant boost by public sector digitisation and e-services initiatives," the report continues.

At AfricaCom 2017 hosted recently in Cape Town, Liquid Telecom confirmed its aggressive investment in cloud and digital services.

Group CEO Nic Rudnick said, "For the first time cloud will start becoming a meaningful way of people accessing services. Billing for all of these services will be local and will be bundled with their connectivity, so it will become easier and easier - not just from a connectivity point of view and from a quality point of view, but also from the ability to access and pay for these services on a commercial basis."

Cisco's Global Cloud Index puts the Middle East and Africa cloud computing infrastructure growth at 42% per year from 2014 to 2019.

Also quoted in the African Cloud report 2017, Jon Tullett, Research Manager of IT Services Africa at IDC said: "Across Africa, the cloud has been underplayed, and was slow to take off - often due to lack of infrastructure, data protection concerns, and conservative investment strategies. Now, concerns about security and data sovereignty are starting to fall away in the face of consumer cloud acceptance and the advent of stricter legislation.

In South Africa, IDC research has found that up to 93% of companies are developing a cloud strategy and are either in the implementation or planning phase of their cloud journey.

"In South Africa, Software as a Service (SaaS), for example, is growing 35% year-on-year. But this is off a low base, and currently, the cloud is still dwarfed by on-premise computing," said Tullett.

He added that the expansion of multinational organisations into new regions across Africa is also supporting the growth of cloud computing: "A number of local manufacturers, transport and logistics services and retailers are currently expanding into new regions - particularly in East Africa - and they do not want to have to build out new infrastructure and data centres, so the cloud is a logical move."

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