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Thursday, Sep 20th

'Cloud is the future and Africa better respond'

'Cloud is the future and Africa better respond'

Today, the question isn't whether or not to migrate to the cloud – it is more a case of how economies should be managed to leverage the maturity of this resource and truly benefit from efficiency.

This is according to Antònio Nunes, CEO of Angolan multinational telecommunications services provider Angola Cables.

Speaking to ITWeb Africa during a visit to South Africa this week, Nunes said cloud services is central to the company's connectivity strategy and while there is still a degree of apprehension in Africa, cloud is a reality, growing in maturity and the business case is clear.

"People are still a little afraid about the cloud, but I don't think it will be something you can stop because your efficiency is much higher. You don't have capex costs and you reduce your opex costs, so automatically your efficiency will grow. In terms of cyber security, you are much more secure when you are inside the cloud because all the cloud providers are taking care of the security into the cloud."

He believes it is important now for governments to figure out how to manage economies to capitalise on resources that are traded through the cloud.

"Netflix is an example. So you pay Netflix, they are in the US, and you are watching Netflix in South Africa... the point is the South African government is not winning anything from that. So, governments are the ones that need to move quickly to understand how to rule their economies. We are just talking about media and entertainment now, but what about moving e-government processes to the cloud?"

While those governing emerging markets in Africa must fully comprehend how to move these processes, where data then resides, who has access and how resources should be taxed to secure revenue, they are reminded that cloud is being fully embraced in other countries.

"Today in the US, even the US army – some of the issues are already in the public cloud, like payment for soldiers, all the processes ... they don't have a special 'army cloud', they use the public cloud for that... why? Because it is more efficient, everything is there and they don't have to invest more," said Nunes.

The cloud issue is not going to be easily solved and it must be considered that African governments are generally more conservative. But this can work in favour of the continent, because the next generation of leadership across Africa (and its large young population) will ensure that the continent is able to ride the next digital wave.

Angola positioning

Which beckons the question: where do markets like Angola, which are slowly but surely strengthening their telecommunications industries and raising their profiles, fit into the scheme of things?

In addition to leading connectivity projects linking up Africa with global counterparts within the wholesale telecommunication space, Angola Cables also wants to help position Angola as one of the key telecommunication hubs in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Is Angola where it should be in terms of telecommunications and technology?

"Not yet... but we are making movements, and we are coming home and explaining stories to people, which is starting to make them think," said Nunes.

He recollects a recent interview at a conference in which he was asked what the use is of cables. Nunes responded with a reference to digital agriculture as an example.

He elaborates, "It is something already happening in Brazil. Today, on a farm in Brazil, rather than simply applying chemicals as they've always done, what they do now is that they launch a drone which flies over the plantation and records images. They download the film and process it, and they know exactly where, in the farm, there is sickness in the plants. They then apply chemicals only in that particular spot."

Technology – or digital agriculture – is being used to reduce the amount of chemicals in agriculture, reduce expenditure and produce more, so there is greater efficiency, Nunes added.

This model can be replicated in Africa, but as Nunes explains, large-scale telecommunications implementation and network development requires power.

When it comes to digital transformation, power supply remains a key challenge he says.

He says China's progress over the last twenty years is largely because of the country's initial investment and installation in fibre optic backbone and power supply.

In Africa, once power and infrastructure is in place, it will be up to governments to attract investment.

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