Microsoft has opened its first datacentres in Africa, with the general availability of Azure from the new cloud regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa.
The move makes Microsoft the first global provider to deliver cloud services from datacentres on the continent.
“Microsoft Azure is now available from our new cloud regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa will create greater economic opportunity for organisations in Africa, accelerate new global investment, and improve access to cloud and internet services,” says Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president, Azure Networking, Microsoft.
According to the Cloud Africa 2018 report, the use of cloud among medium to large organizations in Africa has more than doubled between 2013 and 2018. Due to the benefits of cloud in offering efficiency and scalability, more than 90 percent of surveyed companies in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria have plans to increase their spending on cloud computing in the next year.
However, a secure offering remains important in maintaining this momentum, with many African CEOs being concerned about cyber threats.
With a network of over 10,000 local partners – and a nearly 30-year history of operating on the continent – the new datacentres form part of Microsoft’s ongoing investment to enable digital transformation across Africa.
In 2013, Microsoft launched its continent-wide 4Afrika Initiative, where it has been working with governments, partners, start-ups and youth to develop more affordable access to the internet, 21st century skills, and locally relevant technology. Most recently, this included a partnership with FirstBank Nigeria to expand cloud services and digital educational platforms to SME customers.
In Kenya, Microsoft is expanding FarmBeats, an end-to-end approach to help farmers benefit from technology. FarmBeats strives to enable data-driven farming, bringing together traditional knowledge, intuition and data to help increase farm productivity and yields.
On the skills development front, Microsoft has established a network of more than 800 Microsoft Imagine Academies across Africa, offering students of various age groups direct training in the technology field. In partnership with the African Development Bank, Microsoft is also rolling out `Coding for Employment` to create more than 25 million jobs and reach 50 million youth and women across Africa.
“We’re working with partners to accelerate cloud readiness and adoption in Africa, ensuring enterprises can deliver services to market faster, businesses can make more data-driven decisions, and governments can better connect with citizens,” Ibrahim Youssry, general manager, North, West, East, Central Africa, Levant & Pakistan, Microsoft said. “As we connect more businesses to Azure, we’re seeing heightened innovation in the cloud and start-ups expanding their services to new markets. The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa will now connect businesses with even more opportunity and customers across the globe.”
Azure is the first of Microsoft’s intelligent cloud services to be delivered from the new datacentres in South Africa. Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity solution, is anticipated to be available by the third quarter of calendar year 2019, while Dynamics 365, the next generation of intelligent business applications, is anticipated in the fourth quarter.