[Column] Richard Muthua: Kenya and Africa are ready to join the future of Cloud

It is sometimes too easy for the world to wrongfully assume that Africa lags too far behind the global cloud innovation revolution happening. That is a fundamentally flawed outlook. 

As of 2021, our continent accounted only for USD 1.2 billion of the global public cloud market, it has more than doubled in the past three years and continues to grow exponentially year on year. Soon, Africa will be among the world’s leading cloud innovators, and countries like Kenya will be at the forefront. 

It has been inspiring to witness first-hand the continued growth of Kenya’s tech sector. Ongoing expansion and improvement of data infrastructure are playing a critical role in pushing national economic growth beyond expectations. 

As of March 2022, total data and internet subscriptions in Kenya surpassed 46 million, according to a recent Communications Authority of Kenya report. This equates to 93.9 per cent of the Kenyan population compared to 31.4 per cent that were connected in 2013. The pandemic only intensified this growth as many businesses adopted remote working methods – calling for more adept cloud adoption strategies.    

In addition to cloud, the digital revolution also led to the creation of new skills in the fields of artificial intelligence, big data and mobile robotics. 

It would not be surprising to see 2022 become the year many African industries experience a massive surge in cloud solutions. This is already driven by the impetus of digital transformation strategies across the board and a need to gain a competitive advantage in a new normal. 

The reality of Africa’s historical low economic growth is the very reason that the continent is ideally suited for the speedy adoption of cloud technology. As Kenya, and the rest of Africa, look towards economic recovery and growth, cloud is the answer to cutting costs and increasing efficiencies as businesses move away from the requirement of hardware and installation. 

But this doesn’t happen overnight, and it certainly doesn’t happen alone. 

Liquid’s cloud ambition lies in partnerships

At Liquid Intelligent Technologies (Liquid), we have proudly built Africa’s largest independently owned fibre network. While that is a fantastic achievement, our ambition also lies in the cloud. We are part of a mission to build Africa’s largest-ever data centre in Lagos, Nigeria, which is being spearheaded by Africa Data Centres, another organisation under the Cassava Technologies House of Brands. This development will spur cloud innovation that has never been seen before on African soil. However, this will require some key players.  

As Liquid continues to make headway with the East-West fibre lines across the continent, especially through areas like the Congo, more interest will be generated from these multinational tech giants – adding to the exponential growth curve.

Cloud is the best cybersecurity on the market

One of the biggest deterrents of cloud adoption lies in the belief that a migration to the cloud will lead to more cyber-attacks. While this could be true, it is also true that the advancement and rising complexity of the average cybercriminal syndicate means that businesses need to invest more in protecting their cyber assets. With cloud, the benefit of economies of scale and availability of skill within a cloud service provider environment makes it easier to secure your cyber assets with the most up-to-date technologies at par with the threats. This could otherwise be too expensive and technically unachievable for an organisation using the on-premises option.

This will need accredited and capable partners to bring this to life. Liquid’s offering is designed to protect customers at every intersection of their digitally transformed business including network, people, and systems, revolutionising how cyber security is approached.  Our approach provides small and large business owners, enterprises, and government entities with secure cloud services that help them get an edge of their competitors on the continent and beyond. 

Cloud is the pathway to start-up success 

The last two years have emphasised the need to leverage digital channels to deliver on value propositions. Cloud allows businesses, especially those who are young and ready to grow, a pathway that is ready to scale at a moment’s notice. 

Since latency is such a widespread issue in Africa, serving a customer as quickly as possible is the key to competitive advantage, which is life or death in a start-up landscape. Nobody wants to see loading screens and unnecessary buffers when trying to access mission-critical systems. As soon as the customer experience is interrupted, the customer is already thinking of the competitor. 

However, none of this would be possible without a key player in the market who understands the need for resilient and scalable infrastructure—those being infrastructure providers like Liquid. 

For example, in May 2022, Liquid partnered with PEACE Cable Company to introduce 800Gbps of additional subsea capacity in Mombasa on the highly-anticipated global submarine cable. This will increase the availability of high-performance and reliable Internet connectivity access across Africa, leveraging Liquid’s 100,000km of terrestrial fibre across 12 countries.

The continent needs more proud enablers of cloud success. Through the right partnerships, programmes and events, we can continue to provide a platform for businesses and entrepreneurs alike to succeed in a digital economy and do so through the cloud – one of the most significant enablers of the fourth industrial revolution. 

Richard Muthua is the Executive Head, Cloud and Cyber Security at Liquid Intelligent Technologies, Kenya