CIOs Should Look to Africa Cloud for Opportunities

Digital AfricaCIOs looking for a challenge (or even new employment) might want to look to the African continent. It’s a place ripe for cloud development. Africans in nations like Kenya have need for the cloud but aren’t well situated in choosing what’s best for their needs.

So says IT News Africa in a recent report. “A range of skills are needed to bolster the growing uptake of cloud computing in Africa, Kenya in particular wants to lead the way. However, not everyone is aware of the benefits of the cloud and due to cyber-security concerns most companies tend to focus on developing services with private cloud rather than public or hybrid solutions,” the article says.

Nigel Moulton, chief technology officer for the Europe, Middle East, Africa region, for VCE (the Virtual Computing Environment Company) says in a separate IT Africa article, “To capitalize on their growing economies and competitiveness, companies in African countries like [Nigeria and Kenya] need to embrace converged cloud infrastructure because it overcomes [the] challenges [of providing a modern IT infrastructure]. It offers a complete infrastructure platform, which organizations can use for all of their cloud deployments.”

The original IT Africa article adds that the cloud will offer “a greater level of scalability to meet the peaks and troughs of demand, flexibility and its more cost efficient because there is no need to spend capital on buying new hardware.” It’s similar to what has been done in developing countries to provide telephone service. Wires weren’t laid because cellular service proved more effective and cost efficient.

The article continues, “Converged cloud infrastructure permits organizations to focus on developing and delivering new products and services to market in a way that’s much quicker than any traditional I.T can achieve – and it comes as one data center solution that uses the latest best of breed technology.”

But it’s not just the cloud that needs to be understood. CIOs in Africa could benefit from the knowledge already gleaned by their counterparts in Europe and North America. Moulton quoted from research by the University of Nairobi and Microsoft that says the impact of the technology in Kenya may currently be limited, “and with the security concerns being high on the agenda, they need access to technologies such as a converged cloud infrastructure and the expertise that comes with it from vendors such as VCE to ensure that their deployments are successful and become widespread. At the moment more companies use private cloud (39 percent), perhaps because of the security concerns. The survey of 60 organizations also reveals that 22 percent of organizations in the country use public cloud.”

So, where do the IT folks need help? Moulton answers that question, as well. “Amazingly, or perhaps worryingly, it suggests that 75 percent of the 54 respondents are not aware of any cloud computing standards and a further 80 percent state that they have no knowledge of policy and legal frameworks. Yet 90 percent of those surveyed thought that the Kenyan cloud services market is ready, but there remains a need to educate people about the technology, which is misunderstood at the moment,” he says.

“Yet for cloud computing to prosper, Africa’s governments need to establish supportive legal and regulatory frameworks, make the technology available to everyone and ensure that there are sufficient numbers of technically trained people with the right skills to support it,” Moulton added.

IT Africa also reports, “The Kenyan government hopes that IT-enabled services will have created 7,500 direct BPO jobs by 2030, enabling Kenya to become one of the top 3 BPO destinations in Africa. Other industries form part of the government’s plan too: tourism, agriculture, wholesale and retail, manufacturing and IT services. It hopes that each one of these will help the country to maintain a sustained economic growth rate of 10% per year over the next 25 years.”

Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping,, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.