Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced that it will open its first data centres in Africa in the first half of 2020.
The company is chasing rival Microsoft Azure, which launches two data centres in South Africa this year.
Neither IBM Cloud nor GCP have African zones yet.
The new AWS Africa infrastructure region in Cape Town will consist of three availability zones and is expected to serve end-users across the continent with lower latency.
“Having built the original version of Amazon EC2 in our Cape Town development centre 14 years ago, and with thousands of Africa companies using AWS for years, we’ve been able to witness first-hand the technical talent and potential in Africa,” said AWS CEO Andy Jassy Thursday.
“Technology has the opportunity to transform lives and economies across Africa and we’re excited about AWS and the cloud being a meaningful part of that transformation.”
AWS Cape Town will provide lower latency to end-users across sub-Saharan Africa and enable more African organisations to use technologies such as AI, machine learning, and the IoT, Amazon said.
Local AWS customers will be able to store data in South Africa with the assurance that it will not move without consent, AWS said, adding that its secure infrastructure meets standards for South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA).
Amazon says that both private sector organisations in Africa, including Absa bank, Investec, Old Mutual, and Standard Bank, and public sector organisations, including The National Museums of Kenya, are increasingly opting for AWS services.
Andy Baker, CEO of Absa, said AWS Cape Town will reduce latencies for the bank and enable it to beef up its cloud consumption, reduce operational costs, and improve its “cyber-risk profile” following a digital transformation drive.
“We no longer [use] bespoke hardware, SAN storage, or high-cost proprietary database solutions,” he said. “Instead, our new tech stack utilises low cost, fully automated, logically partitioned, open-source software, with real-time security and application monitoring.”
AWS Africa to Reduce Latency, Boost Local Organisations’ AI, ML, IoT Capabilities
AWS currently has 55 availability zones across 19 infrastructure regions globally, covering the US, the UK, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, and Singapore.
In addition to Cape Town, it’s also planning regions in Bahrain, Hong Kong, Stockholm, and a second GovCloud Region in the US.
Amazon has ramped up investment in Africa in recent years.
In May, it launched infrastructure points of presence in Cape Town and Johannesburg, bringing Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Rote 53, AWS Shield, and AWS WAF to the continent.
It also opened an office in Johannesburg in 2015 and a development centre in Cape Town focused on network technologies and next-gen software back in 2004.
Amazon also said it is investing in the South African technology community, supporting organisations across the continent that teach children to code, equip young women with technical skills, and “the empowerment of women through technology”.
It is supporting the not-for-profit organisation World Reader by donating cloud technology and Kindle devices to schools and libraries to tackle illiteracy across Africa; as well as the Explore Data Science Academy to educate students on data analytics skills.