Microsoft Source: Google Images

Microsoft has announced the opening of its first data centres in Africa, with the general availability of Azure from the new cloud regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa.

This makes Microsoft the first global provider to deliver cloud services from data centres on the continent, which will help companies securely and reliably move their businesses to the cloud while meeting compliance needs.

“Microsoft Azure is now available from our new cloud regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa will create greater economic opportunity for organisations in Africa, accelerate new global investment, and improve access to cloud and internet services,” said Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president, Azure Networking, Microsoft.

Ibrahim Youssry, general manager, North, West, East, Central Africa, Levant & Pakistan, Microsoft said, “Today is a milestone moment in bringing the global cloud closer to home for African citizens and businesses. Enterprises across Africa can now take full advantage of the many benefits of Microsoft Azure, using cloud services to maintain security and meet compliance standards”.

According to the Cloud Africa 2018 report, cloud use among medium to large organisations in Africa has more than doubled between 2013 and 2018. Due to the benefits of cloud in offering efficiency and scalability, more than 90 percent of surveyed companies in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria have plans to increase their spending on cloud computing in the next year.

However, a secure offering remains important in maintaining this momentum, with many African Chief Executives concerned about cyber threats.

An investment in Africa

With a network of over 10,000 local partners – and a nearly 30-year history of operating on the continent – the new data centres form part of Microsoft’s ongoing investment to enable digital transformation across Africa.

In 2013, Microsoft launched its 4Afrika Initiative, working with governments, partners, start-ups and youth to develop more affordable access to the internet, 21st century skills, and locally relevant technology. Recently, this included a partnership with FirstBank Nigeria to expand cloud services and digital educational platforms to SME customers.

In Kenya, Microsoft is expanding FarmBeats , an end-to-end approach to help farmers benefit from technology. FarmBeats strives to enable data-driven farming, bringing together traditional knowledge, intuition and data to help increase farm productivity and yields.

On the skills development front, Microsoft has established a network of over 800 Microsoft Imagine Academies, offering students of various age groups direct training in the technology field. Together with the African Development Bank, Microsoft is also rolling out `Coding for Employment` to create 25 million jobs and reach 50 million youth and women across Africa.

Azure is the first of Microsoft’s intelligent cloud services to be delivered from the new data centres in South Africa. Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity solution, is anticipated to be available by the third quarter of calendar year 2019, while Dynamics 365, the next generation of intelligent business applications, is anticipated in the fourth quarter.