September 17, 2020

An agile Africa: harnessing the power of cloud computing

By Francis Wainaina, Senior Product Manager at SEACOM East Africa

The adoption of cloud technology has accelerated in recent years, driven by better broadband connectivity and more affordable data. Businesses are often encouraged to adopt cloud-based services to not only respond to change, but to thrive in an increasingly digital world. In fact, the Cloud Africa 2018 Report found that 98% of surveyed Kenyan business decision-makers agree on cloud computing's innovation capacity and transformative impact.

The cloud brings many benefits

This transformative impact is ideal for establishing a global footprint and expanding internationally. Mass cloud adoption across Africa has the potential to not only improve customer service, business efficiency, operational flexibility, and agility, but to also save costs.

The pay-per-usage model and the scalability characteristics of cloud computing offer tangible benefits to cloud users. Using the cloud eliminates the upfront costs required for setting up IT infrastructure and reduces maintenance costs (including electricity costs).

Storing information in the cloud offers a bird’s-eye view of your data. It is easier to implement tracking mechanisms and build customised reports to analyse organisation-wide information. This will, in turn, enable increased efficiencies, better decision making, and a competitive edge.

Cloud solutions can also be more secure. Data uploaded to the cloud is encrypted, making it difficult for anyone who isn’t authorised to access the information.

Increasing cloud adoption

However, many private businesses and public institutions in East Africa are yet to fully embrace these services due to insufficient knowledge, public perception, confusing regulations, cost, and security concerns – to name a few challenges.

Because the cloud has the potential to transform economic activities, governments are starting to leverage the power of cloud computing, which is promising for the sector.

Take, for example, the mandate by the Kenya Education Network to provide high-speed connectivity and cloud services to education, research, and government institutions affiliated to the education sector. The project is aimed at transforming education and research using ICT by making cloud and research computing available to researchers, faculty, students, and staff. This acts as a vehicle for the government to increase the penetration of broadband services in educational and research institutions, resulting in ICT and broadband research, innovations, and development.

The evolving partnership between government, cloud service providers, and other businesses solidifies the benefits of cloud computing – not only for the public sector, but for the country as a whole. It has the potential to enable access to technology in a way that would not have been possible just a few years ago, spurring on economic growth in the process. It provides an opportunity for new entrants in various business sectors to leapfrog and compete with larger enterprises in the market.

Regardless of the industry or their size, almost all companies need digital infrastructure to support their business operations. Cloud computing will be transformative for companies willing to adapt to new ways of working as data analytics, artificial intelligence, and other capabilities offer them a competitive advantage. Only time will reveal the true impact of cloud computing – luckily, the future seems promising.

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