infoTECH Feature

February 07, 2012

Infrastructure Issues Block Cloud Computing Growth in Africa

Although cloud computing is expected to disrupt IT as we know it today, it’s still in its infancy – with its potential being hindered by several infrastructure issues, including broadband availability in some areas of the world.

Cloud computing will have “a major impact on everything from agriculture to education” in Africa, according to the editor of one of the region’s most prominent online IT publications.

Despite the hype, cloud computing is still in the earliest form of adoption for many nations across the globe, with its potential being hampered by a number of infrastructure issues, such as broadband availability, according to Abby Wakama, publisher and executive editor of

However, due to the operational and capital expenses that can be reduced by shifting to the cloud – coupled with broadband changes being made in Africa – Wakama said that cloud services will have a key role in improving regional business opportunities.

“Cloud computing is changing the way companies do business. It enables them to move from capital expenditure to operational expenditure, thus offering an affordable way to access services,” Wakama said.

In fact, more African businesses are extracting value from data through business intelligence (BI) and analytics, which is a boon for cloud-based services, Sean Paine, COO of information solutions specialist, EnterpriseWorx, recently told ITNewsAfrica.

“Cloud computing will remain as a dominant theme and this year will see tangible evidence of the move to BI in the cloud,” predicted Paine. “We don’t have consistent high bandwidth in this country, but success will go to those who act now to secure their place in the South African cloud computing environment.”

Africa is also seeing the fruits of the submarine fiber-optic cables that were laid in the last few years, Wakama added. Seacom launched the first east African submarine fiber optic cable in 2009, bringing broadband capacity to Africa through the sale of wholesale international bandwidth and associated services on an open-access basis

“The cost of broadband is dropping, there’s a lot more competition, penetration is growing at an alarming rate; and African entrepreneurs are taking full advantage of this welcome development by providing apps and services that were impossible to contemplate just five years ago,” Wakama said.

Massive changes are also coming in respect to African small to medium-sized businesses and cloud, as well.

“I see more SMEs thriving as the cost of doing business is set to drop drastically across Africa – and for many businesses bandwidth is increasingly becoming a major component of that cost,” explained Wakama. “In addition, SMEs can buy access to IT resources from cloud providers on a pay-by-usage basis, and they only need a good Internet connection to remotely access the IT infrastructure that is located in the cloud provider’s data center.”

Wakama is scheduled to speak at the Cloud Computing World Forum Africa, to be held in Johannesburg on May 8.

Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TMCnet, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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