Tech giant Google today announced the launch of a cloud region in South Africa, its first on the continent, responding to other leading providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, which invaded the continent a few years ago.
Google said it is also building Dedicated Cloud Interconnect sites, which connect users’ networks to Google’s network, in Nairobi (Kenya), Lagos (Nigeria) and South Africa (Cape Town and Johannesburg) in an effort to provide fully scaling cloud capabilities for its customers and partners in Africa.
Google plans to use its private undersea cable, Equiano, which connects Africa and Europe to power the sites. Equiano has been under development since 2019 and has so far made four landings — in Togo, Namibia, Nigeria and South Africa.
South Africa now joins Google’s global network of 35 cloud regions and 106 zones worldwide, and the announcement follows the recent rollout of preview regions in Malaysia, Thailand and New Zealand. Google Cloud Regions allow users to deploy cloud resources from specific geographic locations and access multiple services such as cloud storage, computing engine, and key management system.
“We are excited to announce the first Google Cloud region in Africa. The new area will allow applications and services to be located. It will make it really easy for our customers and partners to quickly develop solutions for their businesses that can leverage the capabilities of computer artificial intelligence or machine learning and data analytics to make smarter business decisions as they go,” he said. Google Cloud Africa Director Niral Patel.
It added that the new area and interconnection sites will bring cloud computing services closer to its customers, allowing its customers to choose where to consume the products.
“What we’re doing here is giving customers and partners the ability to choose where they want to store their data and where they want to consume cloud services, especially in the context of data sovereignty. This allows customers to then store the data in-country if they choose to do so… I guess for me the most important element is that it gives customers the element of choice,” Patel said.
The ability for users to choose where they store their data is increasingly important as countries like Kenya implement privacy and data laws that require companies to store their data within borders and process it through hosted servers local.
The decision to establish a region in South Africa was informed by demand for cloud services and market potential. However, the company is looking to roll out to more markets within the continent as demand for its products soars. Its early adopters include large enterprises and e-commerce companies such as South Africa’s TakeAlot and Kenya’s Twiga.
“We continue to assess market demands as we work with our customers to see them transform and grow in these markets. We are constantly doing these assessments and on that basis we continue to invest,” said Patel.
According to research by AlphaBeta Economics, commissioned by Google Cloud, South Africa’s cloud region will contribute over $2.1 billion to South Africa’s GDP and support the creation of more than 40,000 jobs by 2030.
Google Cloud, Microsoft’s Azure and AWS are the world’s three biggest public cloud storage players, according to Gartner data, but it is unclear why Google has been absent in Africa until now.
Microsoft launched two cloud regions in South Africa: Cape Town and Johannesburg (only the cloud region in the latter remains active) in 2019, the same year Google announced that it had “no plans to establish a cloud region or data center in Africa ». in this report. However, it could not be ruled out to happen in the near future.
Amazon followed suit in 2020, scaling AWS data centers in South Africa through Cape Town. Oracle, another major player, also set up its data center in Johannesburg this year. Asked whether Google is catching up to other cloud storage players, both executives painted a picture that each major player is interested in expanding the internet ecosystem in Africa through their data centers rather than vying for a bigger market share.
“In terms of where we are on the continent with the Internet, the work that needs to be done is to think about how we get more people and businesses online, how we help more entrepreneurs access capital and so on,” Gajria observed. . “In business parlance, this is less of a zero-sum game of market share and more about how we work collectively in the private sector, the public sector, civil society, to just create a big, vibrant Internet ecosystem that helps expand economies and businesses, as well as job creation”.
With the launch of Google, South Africa is now home to every cloud storage provider on the continent.