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Redrawing the cloud atlas: How Africa is adopting cloud computing

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In evaluating the many cloud computing events on the calendar for 2013, I’m pleasantly surprised by the number of cloud conferences scheduled throughout Africa. On tap for the upcoming year are events such as Cloud World Forum Africa, where the likes of Oracle and SAP will be present, and several chapters of the Cloud and Virtualization African Summit among others.

I grew up in Kenya and Zimbabwe during the 1980s, so the challenges facing the continent have often seemed to me to be insurmountable. Fortunately, the promise and opportunity of technological advancement are coming to this massive emerging market.

South Africa is often cited as the breakout case, but cloud adoption is permeating through the continent, especially as governments and industries like banking and finance make inroads. For most African nations though, part of the challenge in these early stages is funding and building the basic infrastructure and framework for adoption. A 2012 KPMG study showed that a critical concern is security–standards for data privacy, tied closely to the skills shortage to implement cloud best practices.

An International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 2012 analysis report shows similar findings, where the spectrum of implementations share the same challenges. Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi are places where cloud strategies are emerging and data center projects are being implemented. In many countries surveyed, larger projects are underway to implement regulatory frameworks, electronic transactions, outsourcing of business processes and growing technology parks as the underpinnings of cloud. Bandwidth and connectivity are still hurdles and most countries are looking to catch up on fixing infrastructure and ensuring high-speed networks.

Most major infrastructure and service vendors are already invested in solidifying the cloud foundation. In fact IBM recently opened a research lab in Kenya, continuing investment in this emerging market. IBM also sees a large opportunity to work with small and medium-sized businesses where cloud adoption may be growing at a faster rate. It’ll be interesting to see what comes out of Africa in next few years.

Here’s more on IBM’s investment in Africa.

(Image via patrick_q on Flickr)
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