Data centre investment and Covid-19 - catalysts for accelerated cloud adoption in Africa

Console Connect has launched the second edition of its Africa Interconnection Report, researched by analyst firm Balancing Act, to understand the drivers and barriers to cloud adoption in the region.

Compiled through interviews with over 100 local and international businesses, the report sets out to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns and the effect they have had on the workforce and homeworking in the region.

Since the first Africa Interconnection Report in 2020, there have been unprecedented levels of new investment in African data centres and increased activity from hyperscale cloud providers in the region.

The state of progress will present more opportunities for businesses to scale at will, the ability to access from anywhere, leveraging cloud tools to deliver and deploy with improved performance and security.

The report considers 2022 to be Africa's year of the “big change”.

The key findings from the Africa Interconnection Report 2022 include:

An estimated US$5-6 billion will be invested in carrier-neutral data centres in Africa over the next 3 to 5 years.

Since 2020, the number of carrier-neutral data centres has increased from 20 to 50. The number of planned carrier-neutral data centres has increased from 15 to 68.

Google’s Equiano, A2Africa, and PEACE are among a new wave of subsea cable systems that are increasing bandwidth and stimulating new carrier-neutral data centres to open across Africa.

AWS, Microsoft, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud, and Huawei Cloud are laying the foundations for a robust African hyperscaler market. For example, AWS has established Kenya as a Local Cloud Zone; Microsoft views Nigeria as a “prime” location for development, and Google has announced a $1 billion investment in Africa over the next five years, including the launch of its first South African Google Cloud region.

A significant number of African businesses adopted distributed work practices before Covid-19. Lockdowns forced many organisations to operate remotely, however, increasing bandwidth demands and the need for unbroken connectivity means that the public internet is now inadequate in meeting corporate requirements.

Cloud adoption and innovation is being driven by the start-up community and cloud-native African businesses. Advantages include scalability, enhanced connectivity, and cost savings that reduce both on-prem maintenance and operational expenditure.

Barriers to cloud adoption remain. Many African companies are hampered by legacy equipment and attitudes, alongside tight infrastructure investment budgets. Furthermore, a proportion of business leaders are unaware of the benefits to cloud technology, and the global shortage of talent is being felt acutely in the region.

The need for reliable connectivity is expanding the market for Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) and network automation solutions.

“The emergence of Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) platforms, such as Console Connect, provides businesses in Africa with new options for their cloud and data centre connectivity. Thanks to advancements in Software-defined networking (SDN) and Network functions virtualization (NFV), it is possible for businesses to access private, high-performance networks in real-time and on-demand,” - Africa Interconnection Report 2022

The creation of new data centre infrastructure, subsea cable networks, and fresh streams of investment will propel cloud adoption forward in Africa.

Neil Templeton, SVP, Marketing, at Console Connect, believes that the current reliance on public internet-facing systems “do not always meet increasingly stringent requirements around security and performance when moving data and workloads between cloud services and the people and applications that require them.”

Templeton said, “The emergence of NaaS platforms, such as Console Connect, can help businesses in Africa overcome this challenge. Advancements in Software-defined networking (SDN) have made it easier to access high-performance networks and create a dedicated connection to the cloud that drives efficiency and reduces cost for businesses.”

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