[South Africa] Local partner role is critical to cloud success in Africa

While cloud technology presents a significant opportunity for enterprises to innovate as if they were potentially start-ups, the time and approach some are taking to make this decision could ultimately cost them. This is according to Guy Zibi, principal analyst, Xalam Analytics, who was a keynote speaker at Hype, vendor neutral cloud infrastructure provider, Routed’s recent event series.

In his sessions in Cape Town and Johannesburg, Zibi says that there is no doubt that the African cloud is here: “While customers are going digital at an alarming rate, competition is increasingly amorphous and more agile. There are also thousands of start-ups looking to disrupt. Traditional rivals are becoming more agile and are leveraging new technologies, making the African cloud complex and varied,” says Zibi.

He says that this has led to many enterprises playing a defensive strategy, now looking at how to leverage technology to grow revenue: “This is predominant in consumer-facing businesses and has led to growth of mobile applications and a rise in the use of analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).”

This, he says, is while data volumes grow, budgets get tighter, economies slow down, and unpredictable power supply, cyber-attacks and a heavier regulatory burden all make the landscape more challenging.

How organisations approach the cloud largely hinges on what and where they are, according to Zibi. Is the market cloud-ready? How important is technology in the production chain? What is the quality and cost of connectivity?

“In Africa we are seeing selective cloud usage, which includes a mix of basic and critical workloads onsite and a mix of full-blown migration. The latter includes lift and shift; re-platform; replace/rebuild and rearchitect,” says Zibi. Interestingly, he says that the financial services sector is the most progressive in Africa, having moved to a combination of off premise and public cloud.”

Migration patterns in cloud-ready markets have been amplified by the arrival of hyperscalers, which is evident in the acceleration of the financial services sector. While rebuild/replace is not seen as a viable option, lift and shift together with rearchitecting seem to be dominating cloud migration.

“Rehosting is growing within financial services as well as in retail, however the public sector and industry are slower. It is this reluctance to consider viable alternatives that could impact the outcome and success of cloud migration across several industries,” says Zibi. 

He says that there is room for locally-attuned platforms in Africa: “While it is good to see global market leading cloud platforms in Africa, it is highly likely that several markets and sectors will be highly-dependent on local providers. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) will play an important role in cloud migration but they must evolve.”

Dave Funnell, VMware Senior Manager: Cloud Provider Business, Sub-Saharan Africa says that the growth of applications is driving Cloud adoption, with a different destination depending upon the lifecycle status of the application. This is leading to a hybrid multi-cloud world, with the requirement for cloud services not just from the hyperscalers, but also hosted private clouds. Having recently presented Routed with Africa’s first VMware Cloud Verified accreditation, he says that these Cloud platforms provide customers with a valuable proposition: the easiest and lowest risk pathway for migration to the cloud.

“The reality is that it’s a hybrid cloud future with multiple cloud providers. The majority of applications being migrated to the cloud are ‘lift and shift’, so why expend the time, cost and energy to migrate over months and years to a hyperscaler, often with unpredictable results. Rather perform a rapid and confident migration to a private cloud, whether delivered by a hyperscaler or a localised provider, such as Routed. This is why all six major hyperscalers, including AWS and Azure, have partnered with VMware and explains the growth of localised cloud provider partners, who deliver services tailored to their client’s requirements. As more enterprises adopt a cloud first strategy, I expect the private cloud market to grow in lockstep with the native hyperscale requirement, making the role of companies like Routed and other MSPs, critical,” says Funnell.

www.routed.co.za

www.xalamanalytics.com

Huawei Cloud launches Elastic Cloud Server services across Africa

Huawei Cloud has released Kunpeng ECS (Elastic Cloud Server) cloud services and Partner Program 2.0. The Kunpeng-powered cloud services will be made available to African customers by the end of December 2019 and aim to offer 15% faster multi-core computing power and a 30% higher performance/price ratio than the industry average.

Speaking at the Huawei Cloud, AI Forum, Rui Houwei, President of Huawei Cloud Africa, noted the significance of recent technological breakthroughs. “The computing industry has gone through the mainframe computer, minicomputer, and x86 server stages and will move to the multi-architecture computing stage,” he said.

“The computing power previously available only in the x86 architecture, is now available in different architectures, allowing for the use of appropriate computing power for each specific application. “

“This January, Huawei launched Kunpeng 920, the industry’s highest-performing 7nm server processor in the Kunpeng architecture. The Huawei Cloud ECS is powered by the Kunpeng servers and supports multi-architecture computing. ”

Rui also expressed optimism at Kunpeng’s capabilities for the local market, “Huawei can innovate across the entire stack ranging from chips and servers to cloud platforms. In-depth collaboration between chips, hardware, and software enable Kunpeng cloud services to deliver unparalleled performance. We are deeply committed to providing diversified cloud services and solutions, to help public institutions and private companies take intelligence and mobility to even greater heights. ”

At the forum, Huawei also outlined its Partner Program 2.0 initiative, which offers crucial support for partners, about online and onsite training, market expansion, marketing activities, and technical understanding.

In Africa alone, Huawei Cloud has already established partnerships with over 65 partners spanning diverse industries, including telecom, finance, manufacturing, education, retail, and logistics, as well as the public sector. “Such wide-ranging collaboration is likely to result in unique, and broadly-shared benefits across the ecosystem,” said Rui.

According to an IDC report, South Africa’s spending in public cloud services will reach R11.5 billion in 2022, a three-fold increase from 2017. This expansion is projected to create 112,000 jobs. By 2020, cloud services will account for 67% of enterprises’ total spending in IT infrastructure and software.

More than 85% of enterprises are expected to use the hybrid-cloud or multi-cloud architecture.

Huawei has been operating in Africa for over 20 years and has developed an in-depth understanding of the requirements, opportunities, and challenges faced by African customers. Its local teams are fully equipped to provide premium services for customers spanning 54 different African countries.

Huawei Cloud services were officially launched in South Africa this February, making it the first cloud service provider to utilize local data centres in that country. Over the past eight months, Huawei Cloud has experienced rapid growth in Nigeria, Kenya, and Zambia.

intl.huaweicloud.com

Workonline launches Remote Cloud Connect services in Africa

Global network service provider, Workonline Communications, has launched Remote Cloud Connect, facilitating access to cloud services for Workonline customers over a dedicated Ethernet Virtual Private Line (EVPL) service. This low latency cloud solution enables customers to connect to leading cloud services such as AWS Direct Connect, Microsoft Azure Express Route, Google Cloud, Oracle and IBM cloud platforms more securely and transparently from any country where Workonline has a presence.

Benjamin Deveaux, Head of Business Development at Workonline Communications, says that the aim is to empower customers by enabling them to connect to the cloud through their use of the high performance Workonline backbone: “As a wholesale provider of IP transit services across Africa, we are continuously innovating to provide our ISP clients with more stable and reliable Internet services in Africa. By leveraging global cloud exchange platforms like Teraco’s Africa Cloud Exchange we can offer our ISP customers a more secure remote connection to a cloud provider of their choice. Through Remote Cloud Connect, clients will benefit from a low cost, high performance connection with excellent local support.”

In line with the predicted growth of cloud across the continent, Xalam Analytics recently published its report ‘The rise of the African cloud’, and says that for African markets, cloud, virtualisation and the broader evolution towards serverless computing are the most disruptive technology developments since the advent of the mobile payment revolution. Few other segments in the African ICT space are as likely to generate an incremental $2bn in top line revenue over the next five years, and at least as much in adjacent enabling ecosystem revenue.

Deveaux says that Workonline sees immense potential across East and West Africa within the remote connectivity to cloud services space in particular: “Initially our efforts will focus on Kenya and Ghana, where remote connectivity to cloud services is growing fast.”

Through Remote Cloud Connect, Workonline will deliver far more predictable latency connections by taking the shortest route from Kenya or Ghana back to its South African or European Points of Presence where the Cloud provider in question is present. Workonline will also provide secondary failover links for protection when possible, with transparency in terms of the paths which the traffic will take in various failure scenarios. These services can be provided at 1Mbps to multiples of 10Gbps.

Andrew Owens, Teraco peering and interconnection specialist, says that cloud growth is a reality across the continent and the ability for established networks to provide an on-ramp to cloud is essential: “The Africa Cloud Exchange not only enables networks to provide this connection, but also encourages the growth and development of cloud-based solutions. By providing a direct and secure connection, the platform provides a better cloud experience for end users and as a result, empowers the growth and success of African cloud providers.”

www.workonline.africa

Westcon-Comstor unveils CloudCall to boost business operations

Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa has announced the availability of CloudCall, which integrates the communication and collaboration features of Microsoft Teams with the advanced voice processing of AudioCodes.

 It has been developed in partnership with South African cloud development specialists Argantic. CloudCall removes the need to buy and maintain expensive hardware and software and protects existing investments by integrating with PBX systems.

CloudCall is suitable for companies of any size as it can easily scale according to the number and type of users in the organisation. Partners who sell the service can offer value-added features such as tailored reports with usage, session and device information.

CloudCall can also be deployed as a fully functional IP calling system. It combines the meeting functionality, video recording and conferencing features inherent in Microsoft Teams for improved collaboration in a cloud environment.

www.westconcomstor.com

African cloud market takes off bouyed by demand from public and private sectors, report

The African cloud has arrived. While the cloud services sector is in its early stages of development, the impact of cloud services is already far-reaching according to a new report by Research and Markets.

 African banks are making investments in machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to improve the customer experience and credit risk; new “digital banks” are emerging, that are, at least in part, cloud-based.

Governments are using cloud and virtualized infrastructure to enhance public service delivery. Large retail firms are using compute capabilities and AWS databases to transform how they reach a predominantly mobile and digital customer base.

 And scores of African cloud-native startups are leveraging the cloud to disrupt entire industry sectors.

The African cloud may be small, but it is already here indeed, and it is growing fast. For African markets, cloud, virtualization and the broader evolution towards serverless computing are the most disruptive technology developments since the advent of the mobile payment revolution.

 Few other segments in the African ICT space are as likely to generate an incremental $2bn in top line revenue over the next five years, and at least as much in adjacent enabling ecosystem revenue.

The report highlights the near term economic, commercial and investor value opportunity offered by the rise of the African cloud.

Building on the author’s established analysis of African enterprise and digital infrastructure markets, 18 months of research and 100+ interviews and conversations, The Rise of the African Cloud explores the readiness of African markets for thriving private and public cloud services; it analyzes cloud demand and use case patterns, at segment level, from financial services to the public sector and startups; it estimates and projects cloud services market size; it details the competitive strengths of global hyperscale cloud providers and how their battle is translating in the African context; it outlines the impact of cloud services on Africa’s managed service provider ecosystem and telcos’ evolving enterprise businesses; and it breaks down the investment case within the African cloud value chain, from enterprise connectivity to data centers and SaaS.

www.researchandmarkets.com

Increased digitization, investment in cloud-based services drive growth of Africa data center market, report

The Africa data center market is likely to grow at a CAGR of around 14 per cent during the period 2018 – 2024 according to a recent report by Research and Markets.

icolo.io, MainOne (MDXi), Cloud Exchange Datacenter, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Medallion Communications are the prominent investors in the Africa data center market. Digitization is considered an important avenue for the African economy. It is transforming African economies through retail payments systems, financial inclusion, sustainable business models, and revenue administration.

Governments in the region are taking several initiatives to replace legacy systems and migrate to cloud-based services as part of smart city initiatives. IaaS is expected to grow at a CAGR of 40%, followed by SaaS at 30% with enterprises increasingly shifting to the public cloud platform. There has been a surge in colocation data center investment in markets such as Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, and Senegal in the past two years. Governments are taking initiatives to increase the share of renewable energy in the electricity generation.

Increased digitization in African countries, the adoption of cloud-based services, migration from server rooms to managed, colocation, and hybrid infrastructure services are driving the investment in the Africa data center market. The report provides an in-depth market and segmental analysis of the Africa data center market by electrical infrastructure, mechanical infrastructure, tier standards, general construction, and countries.

www.researchandmarkets.com

Cloud-based services keep global sourcing market on growth trajectory

The global sourcing market maintained its growth trajectory in the second quarter, boosted by growing demand for cloud-based as-a-service solutions, according to the latest state-of-the industry report from Information Services Group (ISG), a global technology research and advisory firm.

Data from the ISG Index™, which measures commercial outsourcing contracts with annual contract value (ACV) of $5 million or more, show second-quarter ACV for the combined global market (both as-a-service and managed services) rose 5 percent, to $13.7 billion.

It was the third consecutive quarter the combined global market surpassed $13 billion in ACV, but the first time in the last three quarters it did not establish a new quarterly ACV record, falling just shy of last quarter’s record $13.9 billion.

As-a-service sourcing registered its second-best quarterly ACV ever, at $6.7 billion, up 14 percent over the prior year.

 Both Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), at $4.9 billion, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), at $1.8 billion, were up 14 percent. IaaS, long the growth engine of this segment, trailed off sequentially this quarter due to slowness in Asia Pacific, particularly China, while SaaS recorded its fourth consecutive record ACV quarter as it climbs toward the $2 billion mark.

Managed services, at $7 billion of ACV, achieved only the seventh quarter this decade at or above that level, but nonetheless dipped 3 percent versus an exceptionally strong second quarter last year.

The 491 contract awards in the latest quarter, up 1 percent, kept alive a string of six consecutive quarters above 400 awards – a sign of both strong demand and continuing market fragmentation.

Within managed services, IT outsourcing (ITO), at $5.3 billion, was down 7 percent in the second quarter, reflecting the continuing shift of data center infrastructure to the cloud.

Business process outsourcing (BPO), meanwhile, climbed 14 percent, to $1.7 billion, on strong demand for horizontal back-office functions such as finance and accounting and procurement, as well as in the facilities management space.

“The global commercial outsourcing market is stable and healthy,” said Steve Hall, partner and president of ISG. “Despite macro-economic and geopolitical risks, technology spend continues to increase. With the rapid changes in digital business, shifting consumer demands and increased competition, enterprises can’t afford to hit pause. We likely will see some macro-economic headwinds before the year is out, but the technology tailwinds are far stronger.”

For the first half, ISG reported combined market ACV of $27.6 billion, up 10 percent. The growth was driven entirely by as-a-service, which, at $13.7 billion, climbed 23 percent, with IaaS up 28 percent, to $10.1 billion, and SaaS up 9 percent, to $3.6 billion.

Managed services overall was flat, at $14 billion, with ITO also flat at $10.9 billion. BPO was down 1 percent, to $3.1 billion. As-a-service in the first half represented 49 percent of the combined market, versus 44 percent in the same period last year.

Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA)

EMEA’s combined market ACV of $5 billion was up 3 percent versus last year. In the managed services segment, ACV was $3.2 billion, about even with the first quarter, but down 1 percent versus a year ago. The two consecutive quarters above $3 billion may signal a return to sourcing levels last seen in 2015. The bulk of managed services ACV came from ITO ($2.7 billion, up 2 percent). Europe continued its shift to as-a-service, now 36 percent of the combined market, with ACV of $1.8 billion, up 9 percent. IaaS, at $1.3 billion, was up 7 percent, while SaaS, at $491million, was up 16 percent. Growth in the Nordics, Benelux and Southern Europe offset slight declines in DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), France and the U.K., as Brexit uncertainty persists.

Americas

In the second quarter, combined ACV in the Americas rose 6 percent, to $6.5 billion, on the strength of robust demand for as-a-service, which now represents a record 57 percent of the market. As-a-service ACV climbed 23 percent in the quarter, to $3.7 billion, including $2.6 billion for IaaS, up 29 percent, and $1.1 billion for SaaS, up 12 percent. Managed services, meanwhile, declined 10 percent, to $2.8 billion, as ITO slumped 22 percent, to $1.8 billion, even as BPO surged 25 percent, to $1 billion.

Asia Pacific

Combined market ACV in Asia Pacific reached a record $2.2 billion, up 6 percent. On the strength of larger awards, managed services produced its best quarter in five years, with ACV of $967 million, up 15 percent. China, South Korea and India had the largest gains, offsetting weakness in Japan and Australia/New Zealand. As-a-service, flat at $1.3 billion, eclipsed the $1 billion ACV level for the sixth straight quarter, amid uneven IaaS results in China, which pushed regional IaaS down 3 percent, to $1.1 billion. SaaS, meanwhile, rose 18 percent, to $206 million.

“We are projecting 22 percent year-on-year revenue growth for the remainder of 2019 in the as-a-service market,” said Hall. “This takes into account a slightly more optimistic view of the SaaS segment and factors in some uncertainty in IaaS, particularly in China and elsewhere in Asia Pacific.

“In the overall IT and business services market, we are raising our growth forecast slightly, to 3.5 percent, through the end of the year. However, given some of the macro-level trends, we will remain alert to any negative developments that could signal an overall downward trend.”

www.isg-one.com

afriQloud – Time for more African businesses to move to the cloud

The African cloud has arrived. Yesterday, afriQloud went live in Uganda, with plans to launch in 15  additional African countries in 2020. 

afriQloud will provide, at internationally competitive rates, local and foreign customers with an innovative and secure distributed edge cloud service.  It is a product of pan-African connectivity provider, BringCom, science and technology investor, Imprimatur Capital, and European edge cloud software company GIG Technology.

afriQloud comes at a time when African businesses are making massive investments in things like machine learning and artificial intelligence tools and are using cloud and virtualized infrastructure to enhance service delivery. Large retail firms are using compute capabilities and AWS databases to transform how they reach a predominantly mobile and digital customer base. And scores of African cloud-native startups are leveraging the cloud to disrupt entire industry sectors.

The cloud services sector in the continent might be in its early stages of development, the impact of cloud services is already far-reaching. 

Why is afriQloud important?

Well, as I mentioned earlier African businesses and organisations are making massive investments in cloud services. In fact, for African markets, cloud, virtualization and the broader evolution towards serverless computing are the most disruptive technology developments since the advent of the mobile payment revolution. 

Hans van Linschoten, founding partner of Imprimatur Capital Africa and CEO of afriQloud said in a statement yesterday  “We see significant potential in the growing African cloud market where an estimated $2 billion is being spent in cloud this year’’

Most of Africa’s content on the internet is however hosted on servers outside the continent. afriQloud is bringing those servers to Africa and African businesses need to take advantage of this. Businesses will now be able to access virtual IT technology and infrastructure; streamlined software and applications; and efficient backups and disaster recovery systems. Cloud technology provides access to software that ultimately reduces costs on so many levels, and can be customised to best suit the relevant business, it is the perfect solution for SMEs in Africa to ensure they remain competitive in the global market.

Opening up of the global market according to Fabrice Langreney, CEO of BringCom will require African companies and organizations to be equally competitive in the deployment of e-solutions, scalability, secure data accessibility and connectivity in line with international standards. This will also help them to design their own map to cloud success. By doing so, African businesses have almost limitless paths and roadways that they can draw – and reshape – to help drive their business growth.

Remember the solution for Africa’s challenges will come from within Africa. Technology is the same all over the world; the difference lies in building solutions that answer and address local socio-economic challenges. With afriQloud, companies in Africa can now emerge from a situation where they have had more rudimentary applications and business processes to where they have unleashed the power of cloud technologies which makes it easier and far more efficient to automate services.

‘’…..and we’re excited to bring this service to the continent. By the end of 2019, we will complement the few developed markets clouds with a powerful and local distributed cloud in at least 15 countries. This ensures data sovereignty for institutions and governments within Africa’s shores.”  Hans van Linschoten concluded. 


www.afriqloud.com

[Column] Nixon Kanali: Cloud, an essential component for every African business

Cloud computing has been in existence for almost two decades now helping businesses stay secure from cyber threats. The technology points to business efficiencies, cost benefits and holds a very competitive advantage.

Currently, a large portion of the African business community continues to operate in the cloud. In fact, according to a study by International Data Group, 69% of businesses around the globe are already using cloud technology in one capacity or another, and 18% say they plan to implement cloud-computing solutions at some point.

A previous report by Dell also revealed that companies that invest in big data, cloud, mobility and even security enjoy up to 53% revenue growth than their competitors.

The African cloud has arrived

Why therefore should businesses in Africa take cloud computing seriously? Well, Africa’s cloud and data centre ecosystem will soon become a land of serious opportunity. Bottom line, the African cloud has arrived and more African businesses need to take advantage of this.  The cloud services sector might still be in its early stages of development, but the impact is already far-reaching.

According to The “The Rise of the African Cloud: Azure, AWS, Vmware and the Battle to Transform African Enterprise Markets” report African banks for example are making investments in machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to improve the customer experience and credit risk; new “digital banks” are emerging, that are, at least in part, cloud-based. Governments are also using cloud and virtualized infrastructure to enhance public service delivery. Large retail firms are using compute capabilities and AWS databases to transform how they reach a predominantly mobile and digital customer base – and scores of African cloud-native startups are leveraging the cloud to disrupt entire industry sectors.

‘’The African cloud may be small, but it is already here indeed, and it is growing fast.’’ the report notes.

CEOs and CIOs in Africa should now have cloud at the centre of their digital transformation strategies if they want to stay in business. The ability to harvest, store and sort big data is a critical element of business competitiveness and according to a recent column by Avinash Ramtohul, the Managing Director, Mauritius and Cloud Architect Leader, Sub-Saharan Africa at Oracle published on African Business Communities, the higher the use of autonomous technologies, the more the competitive edge!

A recent report by Xalam Analytics predicted that top line annual cloud services revenue in Africa is set to double between now and 2023, and public cloud services revenue to triple in that time.

“Few other segments in the African ICT space are as likely to generate an incremental $2bn in top-line revenue over the next five years, and at least as much in adjacent enabling ecosystem revenue,” the report noted. “But the broader upside is unmistakable, and the battle for the African cloud is only beginning.”

Cloud computing leads to faster development and quicker learning within organisations, therefore accelerates innovation as it drastically removes costly overheads when it comes to maintenance and updates. It should, therefore, become an essential component of every African business transformation.

Nixon Kanali is the Tech Editor for the Africa Business Communities

[Column] Andrew Sordam: The huge opportunity for consolidation and cloud in Africa

It is only 100 days since I took up the post of VP for Africa at Oracle, but already it is clear why the continent is such a priority for the company, and why it is considered a land of opportunity in the tech space.

Consolidation of modernisation

Africa is seeing huge population growth, and a marked increase in consumer spending, resulting in a big demand for 24/7 service. The much-discussed leapfrogging effect, which we have seen in areas like power and telecommunications, has helped the continent develop at speed, but it has also placed huge demands on modern businesses.

Companies of various shapes and sizes are taking advantage of the newest tech to improve the way they do business, but a major, more recent trend is that many are now looking at the consolidation of this modernisation. These are companies that are growing very quickly, and they want seamless and complete integration between the front and back office.

This is happening across the board – major corporates, SMEs, financial services companies, those in retail, in financial services, for example, East and West African banks are beginning to merge, with such mergers requiring new strategies.

Adoption of technology is not just for the commercial sector, however. In the public sector, greater efficiencies are also being sought. Each government department used to have its own IT department, but that is now changing, and we are seeing convergence into one service centre. This is a big trend across the continent. The public sector, like the private sector, is looking for integrated technologies to help it become more effective and keep up with demand.

Vertical strategies

Herein lies the opportunity for a company like Oracle. We help private, public sector organisations develop and improve processes and more, and more we are looking at complete solutions.

The opportunity is massive in Africa in this regard. We see the impact of our organisation in every line of business. We are able to give customers choice to either go in with the entire stack – from apps, to infrastructure, to vertical solutions or multiple modular journeys to the cloud. In each instance, this is based on business needs and can be either private or public cloud. And that impact is set to be further scaled with our new approach on the continent.

Our CEO Mark Hurd spoke recently about our plans for leveraging our leading Software-as-a-service (SaaS) business to seize business-to-business (B2B) market share. Africa is no different to anywhere else in this regard, though we see a particular opportunity in increasing our cloud business here, and will focus on this more and more.

Oracle’s model encourages the adoption of cloud particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, giving businesses the benefit of flexibility. Because we invest so much in innovation, it is easy for customers to manage, and we embed more optimisation than anyone else. Apps and databases are embedded with artificial intelligence (AI), making our services easy to adopt – a major benefit. Our solutions can basically run your business, saving you money on human capital.

Yet where we truly stand out at Oracle is our cloud autonomous play. We have an advantage here, with the autonomous category being our own invention, and believe customers in Africa will adopt this technology and improve their businesses as a result.

The Oracle Autonomous Database, for example, completely reshapes our customer’s approach to IT, helping them free their budgets and resources to focus on business growth while reducing risk.

Using machine learning and AI-driven technology, our cloud services can be upgraded, optimised, secured, patched and tuned automatically, without human intervention. Easy management encourages adoption, which speeds business growth, vital to economic development in emerging economies such as those in Africa.

A full ecosystem

For all the exciting trends and opportunities I have spotted in my first 100 days, however, there are also a myriad of challenges.

At the heart of it all are skills. The tech may be there, but you still need the knowledge from within each industry and within each country to maintain a certain level of service. That is why Oracle does not just sell products but also invests in capacity. The growth of Africa as a business hub – and therefore the success of our business on the continent – depends on building a self-sustaining ecosystem.

That is why we focus on developing digital skills across the continent. Our open platform for developers works with local coding communities to build developer skills, while we also partner with development agencies, NGOs, NPOs, and educational institutions, among others, to address ICT skills shortages.

That is also why we look at accelerating startups and entrepreneurs, and building skill sets across many countries. We recently announced, for example, the Ghana-Oracle Digital Enterprise Programme, a collaborative effort that will support 500 technology-enabled startups and entrepreneurs across Ghana through access to Oracle Cloud technology, mentoring and workshops, and business-enablement and support resources. SMEs are the backbone of emerging market economies, and it is vital we support them.

We want to run initiatives like this in other countries too. Tech is key, but we feel knowledge needs to be nurtured as well.

A bright future

Oracle has been present in Africa for nearly three decades, but never before have we been as excited for the future here as we are now. This is demonstrated by the launch of our first Oracle Innovation Hub on the continent, located in South Africa, to help drive the implementation of emerging technologies across the country’s businesses, public sector and academia.

Andrew Sordam is the Vice President for sub-Saharan Africa at Oracle