By Francis Wainaina
As a unified online platform for communication and collaboration, the cloud is now widely considered to be one of the most valuable resources we have at our disposal. It’s reported that by the end of 2020, 82% of workloads globally will reside on the cloud and more than 40 zettabytes of data will be flowing through cloud servers and networks.
If African businesses are to take advantage of the opportunities that the cloud will present in the next decade, there are some key numbers we should all be paying attention to.
That’s how much data European and American broadband subscribers used on average every month during the first quarter of 2020. This reflects an increase of 47% in broadband data usage from the first quarter of 2019 to the first quarter of 2020. Of course, some of this can be attributed to global lockdowns increasing data usage for entertainment, work or online learning arrangements.
This increase has been mirrored on our continent – with SEACOM recently doubling the capacity of its fibre optic network to meet the growing demand for bandwidth in Africa. It’s almost certain that these numbers will continue to increase, enabling cloud-based tech like the Internet of Things and AI-driven automation.
In Kenya, we’ve seen our Internet use grow by 23 335% over the last two decades, with our Internet penetration at approximately 87%. The subsequent shifts in consumer needs and expectations caused by increasing demand for Internet access has led to aggressive network roll out and infrastructure upgrades using technologies that support high capacity services. As our Internet capacity continues to grow, so do the opportunities for businesses to use cloud technologies to realise efficiencies and reach new markets.
It’s reported that the average person uses 36 cloud-based services every single day with global cloud revenue estimated to grow to $331 billion by 2022.
But what does this mean for Africa? If this continent is to generate and keep part of that cloud-revenue pie, governments and businesses need to do what they can to invest in, support and increase access to cloud technology. The cloud has the potential to have a profound impact on organisations’ abilities to innovate and compete on both a regional and global level, making infrastructure a priority.
7 123.36 GB per second
Trends show that Kenya is on its way to being able to embrace the cloud. This year, total undersea bandwidth capacity increased by 14% from the last quarter of 2019 to the first quarter of 2020. The latest report shows that it is at 7 123.36 GB per second; this increased demand for bandwidth capacity is what will enable Africans to access all of the potential benefits of the cloud, and we are likely to see greater demand for additional IT infrastructure to accommodate the uptake.
According to the “Cloud in Africa 2020” report, 38% of decision makers across Africa increased their spend on cloud services in 2019. This is good news for Africa! It shows that African business leaders realise how important the cloud is going to be for the future of their companies and they are investing in the technology now so that they will be ready to meet demand for and provide innovative cloud-enabled services. Because the cloud also enables resource and process efficiencies, more businesses investing in the cloud also means that we can look forward to more competitive African organisations in the future.
6 in 10
That’s how many South African companies experienced a public cloud security incident in the past 12 months, based on survey data from cyber security company Sophos. On home soil, the National KE-CIRT/CC detected 34.6 million cyber threat events during the first quarter of 2020. This reinforces the need for well-secured cloud services in Africa. With so much at stake, business owners cannot afford mission-critical company information to fall into the wrong hands. What’s needed is better education around online security and cloud partners with the skills to guide businesses on best practice.
Increased Internet infrastructure, increased demand for bandwidth, and increased Internet penetration in Kenya are signs that the future could be bright for the cloud in Africa. Not much is certain in the current economic climate, but trends show that these numbers will continue to increase in Africa and across the globe. If the right investments are made to bolster infrastructure and bandwidth over the next 5 years, Africa will be in a prime position to extract efficiencies and realise the innovation that the cloud enables.
(Francis Wainaina is the SEACOM East Africa Senior Product Manager).