South Africa has seen a rush of major players entering the country’s cloud computing space in recent years.
Companies including Amazon, Microsoft, Huawei, and Google have all launched cloud regions in the country.
The launch of these cloud availability zones in South Africa meant that companies and developers could host their applications and data within the country through prominent providers.
In addition to providing lower latency, this makes it easier for government-linked entities and companies with strict data protection requirements to use such services.
While basic shared hosting services may suffice for many, platforms like AWS and Microsoft’s Azure have come to dominate in larger companies due to the business benefits they provide.
In 2022, the International Data Corporation surveyed 106 South African chief information and technology officers, of which 70% said public cloud applications are essential for their organisation’s technological transformation.
Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched its Africa region in Cape Town in April 2020. The region is labelled “af-south-1”, with the name “Africa (Cape Town)”.
AWS told MyBroadband that the arrival of its infrastructure in South Africa would assist a range of organisations. It would also help developers start businesses and build new products and services.
AWS opened a new office in Johannesburg in September 2022, announcing that it would support growing customer demand in South Africa.
“The new office will support South Africa’s burgeoning cloud market, and provide a range of services to organisations of all sizes, including startups, enterprises, and public sector agencies,” it said in a statement.
“The new office continues Amazon’s growing investment in South Africa.”
Microsoft launched its South African Azure region in March 2019. The company said its data centres would help power the fourth industrial revolution.
The company’s Azure Availability Zones in its South Africa North region went live in October 2021. Microsft said this would bring higher availability and asynchronous replication across Azure regions for recovery protection.
“Availability Zones in South Africa North are made up of three unique physically separated locations or ‘zones’ within a single region to bring higher availability and asynchronous replication across Azure regions for disaster recovery protection,” Microsoft said.
Oracle launched its Johannesburg cloud region in January 2022 — the cloud computing provider’s first region on the continent.
The company first announced its intentions to launch 20 new cloud data centres, including one in South Africa, by the end of 2020. However, the company’s plans were delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Oracle said the new facilities would make it easier for businesses in the region to improve performance and protect data.
The software, services, and—now—cloud computing provider has had a presence in South Africa for 30 years.
Huawei began offering its commercial cloud services in South Africa with the launch of its Johannesburg data centre in March 2019.
It aims to service African governments, carriers, and organisations across various industries with its cloud products.
The company said South Africa was among the most diverse and promising emerging markets globally.
Huawei announced that it would launch a third cloud availability zone in South Africa toward the end of 2022, stating that it will halve cloud latency once it goes live.
The company’s Southern Africa president Leo Chen said that, once completed, the availability zone would be ready three years ahead of schedule.
In October 2022, Google announced that it would launch its first Cloud region in Africa, with South Africa being its base of operations.
“Today, we are deepening our commitment to investing in Africa’s digital transformation,” Google Cloud Leader for Africa, Niral Patel, said.
“I am excited to announce our intent to open a Google Cloud region in South Africa. Our first on the continent.”
Patel explained that estimates from AlphaBeta Economics research suggest that the South African could region could contribute $2.1 billion (R35.6 billion) to South Africa’s GDP and create more than 30,000 jobs by 2030.
Regarding benefits for businesses in the region, Patel said the move would allow for the localisation of applications and services.