[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Cloud is transforming healthcare in Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that many healthcare organizations do not have the necessary agility and business continuity programs or technologies to support them during crises. It is forcing businesses to act on cloud and digital transformation strategies that they had been delaying until now.

In healthcare, cloud computing is applied to overcome two major industry challenges: increasing cost-effectiveness and building a self-sufficient health ecosystem.

Cloud computing, along with increasingly ubiquitous digital tools for collection, aggregation, and analysis of health data, according to Christopher A. LeGrand, CEO, BroadReach Group, offers substantial potential to help the African continent leapfrog many more mature systems in transforming healthcare and improving health outcomes. 

Findings from a study on Leveraging cloud computing for improved health service delivery conducted in Kisumu County in Kenya revealed that cloud computing had been adopted by 42 (53%) while Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service implementations were at 100%, 0% and 5% among adopters, respectively.

‘’Overall, those who had adopted cloud computing realized a significantly higher number of benefits to health service delivery compared to those who had not’’ the study notes.

Cloud computing has enabled the development of various e-healthcare platforms. The best examples, Kevin Rombosia, a healthcare leader and geospatial epidemiologist, says in an article published on Business Daily are the development of applications that enable a patient using a smartphone to access clinic consultation, laboratory services, diagnostics, and pharmacy services from the comfort of their homes. ‘’These platforms enable the storage of patient’s medical records such as past medical histories in the cloud and can be retrieved on demand. This is critical for the continuity of clinical care.’’ He says.

The continent has one of the greatest healthcare challenges in the world. Integrating cloud technology in current health care strategies, therefore, provides new ways of healthcare in Africa. This facilitates and engages the system, the health care professionals, and the patients.

According to a recent report by market research solution Reportlinker, the revenue of the global healthcare cloud computing market is expected to reach $52.30 billion by 2026 up from $11.59 billion in 2020, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 28.5 percent during the period. The main growth factors till 2026 the report says include increased adoption of Software as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud service, with a market share of 63.7% in 2020, owing to the increasing number of providers and payors migrating toward more SaaS healthcare computing services to manage the growth inpatient data.

The bottom line, the cloud is more critical than ever in helping healthcare providers respond to the pandemic and prepare for future disruptions.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Data centres are a growing investment opportunity in Africa

Last week, Global software giant Oracle announced that it has chosen Johannesburg as the site of its first African data centre. Joburg will be among the 14 locations across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and Latin America that the company says it plans to open cloud regions to support strong customer demand for Oracle Cloud services.

This announcement came at a time when the demand for data centers in Africa continues to rise.  According to Gartner, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) data centre market, which includes cloud services, will see spending reach US$5.4 billion in 2022, driven by Digital Transformation initiatives across the region as well as growth in Internet penetration. In addition, industry leaders. believe that projected investment growth in data centre projects is influenced by a growing demand for higher-performance networks, increased management efficiency and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, as we have highlighted in a previous column,  Africa is suited to jump to the cloud more than its peersCloud adoption—including hybrid and multi-cloud adoption—is expanding fast among both private and public sector organizations of all sizes.

BitTitan, a provider of cloud migrations and managed services automation solutions, has also noted that there is a massive migration to the cloud by organisations in the Middle East and Africa.

“We have seen a growing trend in mergers and divestments as a result of the changing business dynamics brought about by the pandemic. Our data on migration project types in Americas and Europe have shown that this leads to increased activity and the trend is only growing. This will be a regular scenario soon in the Middle East as migrations do not stop after clients have been moved to the cloud,” said Antti Ålander, Channel Manager – EMEA, BitTitan said in an article published by Intelligent CIO.

Last week, US group Vantage Data Centres also announced that it is investing more than 15 billion rand ($1 billion) in its first African campus in Johannesburg.  Vantage’s carrier‐neutral 80 megawatts-capacity facility will include 60,000 square metres of data space across three facilities in Johannesburg once fully developed, making it the largest in Africa, the company said in a statement.

Teraco Data Environments Proprietary Limited, Africa’s vendor-neutral data centre and interconnection services provider, recently also announced the completion of Phase 1 of CT2, its new hyperscale data centre in Brackenfell, Cape Town – the largest data centre in the Western Cape.

These increased investments in data centers in Africa is a clear indication that cloud adoption in the region has reached new heights.  In 2020, IT spending was hit hard by the pandemic and declined by 4.9% in the META region, according to IDC. The crisis caused by the pandemic, though, appears to have accelerated plans for digital transformation and related projects such as migration to cloud technology.

According to Knight Frank, Africa currently boasts just 140,000 sq m of data centre space, the same as Switzerland. However, rapid digitisation and the roll-out of 4G and 5G infrastructure across the continent means this is set to grow by 50% over the next five years.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at  Incentro Africa.

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Cloud is transforming the education sector in Africa

In our last Africa cloud review column, we highlighted how cloud can help power smart cities in Africa. Cloud provides the digital infrastructure for smart cities: in other words, a city’s cloud will function as a storage and analysis system for the data used in everything.  

Other than smart cities, the education sector in Africa is also poised to benefit from cloud. 

In an interview with IT News Africa back in 2019, head of E-Learning at the University of Pretoria, Dolf Jordaan noted that the cloud is transforming teaching and learning as we know it, while fast-tracking education improvement from primary school to university. ‘’It allows educators the ability to collaborate on content, share information, and even asses projects,’’ he says.

Cloud computing helps students, teachers, and administrators alike. It allows students access to homework wherever there’s an internet connection, teachers to instantly upload learning materials, and administrators to easily collaborate with one another and save money on data storage. 

When the pandemic most African schools decided to take their learning online. Virtual learning finally became a reality. In Kenya, the government introduced a new digital learning model to 24,000 public schools so that virtual learning in Kenya is accessible to all children. Using cloud, schools were able to save money on licenses, hardware, power, and support. Additionally, schools were able to access online editions of textbooks which saved money and ensured students are learning from the most recent books.

The benefits of cloud in education are massive. The safety, stability, and ease of use of cloud computing in education in Africa is resulting in widespread adoption in educational institutions of all sizes and types.

From 3-4 November 202, Google cloud will also be hosting a government and education summit. You can read all about this online event and how to register here

In the news

Oracle announced that it has selected Johannesburg for its first African Cloud region. Microsoft added Availability Zones to Cloud regions in South Africa and South Korea, while seemingly de-listed a second region in South Africa. Maher Al-Khaiyat, the regional business applications director for Microsoft MEA in a column published on Kenya’s Business Daily also highlighted how cloud-based IT solutions can help firms manage change

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at  Incentro Africa.

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Cloud can help power smart cities in Africa

The term Smart City is not a new one and, while some examples already exist on the African continent, it is not as widespread as it should be. From Accra to Cape Town to Nairobi, turning Africa’s megacities into tech and data hubs of the future.

Like Smart City initiatives across the world, cities in Africa are initiating tech and data-driven solutions to overpopulation issues caused by drastically increasing urbanization. What role is cloud playing in this?

According to Clive Charlton, Head of Solution Architecture for Sub-Saharan Africa at Amazon Web Services (AWS), connectivity, public policy and cloud skills are among the key challenges facing African cities as they move to become smart cities. The deployment of Smart Cities heavily relies on the advances achieved in cloud technologies. To speed up their sustainable development, these cities need to be on the cloud.

Cloud provides the digital infrastructure for smart cities: in other words, a city’s cloud will function as a storage and analysis system for the data used in everything. PCs and server files, web page meta-data, images and video and data created by machine-to-machine communication will all be housed in the cloud.

As it stands, African cities already have the opportunity to go smart, thanks to high cloud adoption.

Countries like South Africa already have a wide range of domestic fibre network providers, with new fibre network providers like Vuma providing an open access fibre network resold to a number of retail service providers, with download speeds of up to 1 Gbps (the highest in Africa).

There are also five key international subsea cable systems connecting South Africa. The country has seen a rapid introduction of new CSPs, with Microsoft Azure Cloud and AWS entering the market as a gateway for the rest of Africa. Amongst new CPS is Alibaba Cloud which said it intended to enter the South African market but as yet has not entered.

South Africa has 12 DC providers with over 40 Data Centre Facilities. There has been new Data Centre build announcements with one of them being Global Data Centers, a subsidiary of NTT Ltd, announcing at the of September 2020 the build of a new Data Centre facility at the Central Point Innovation District in Johannesburg called Johannesburg-1.

Cloud adoption—including hybrid and multi-cloud adoption—is expanding fast among both private and public sector organizations of all sizes. And as we mentioned in a previous column, the continent is suited to jump to the cloud more than its peers. This will in turn accelerate the growth of smart cities in the region.

If we explore the applications of cloud computing, there are multiple benefits as to why smart cities should opt for it.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at  Incentro Africa.

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: African Banks Increasingly Embracing Cloud

Financial services in Africa such as banks and insurance firms are beginning to embrace cloud as they seek to modernize their solutions. The bank of 2030, according to Deloitte, will look very different from today. Facing changing consumer expectations, emerging technologies, and alternative business models, banks need to start putting strategies in place now to help them prepare for this future.

Banking and capital markets leaders in the region are increasingly recognizing that cloud is more than a technology; it is a destination for banks and other financial services firms to store data and applications and access advanced software applications via the internet.

Last week, technology leader IBM announced that major financial institutions across Africa have selected its hybrid cloud and AI capabilities to unlock digital innovation. These banks include EcoBank, Nedbank, Attijariwafa Bank, United Bank of Africa, Co-operative Bank of Kenya, and Banco Mais.

The solutions, according to IBM, continue to help these banks continue their work to develop digital-first solutions, ultimately broadening access to financial services on the continent.

Telecommunications and network provider BT also announced a portfolio of industry-tailored solutions to help financial services firms take a controlled approach to adopting cloud.  BT Cloud Control for Financial Services helps customers’ IT teams address the challenges they face in balancing the risks and rewards of moving their applications and secure data to the cloud; it helps chart the path to growth and delivering outstanding digital experiences.

Cloud allows financial institutions to modernize their operations and truly adopt all aspects of digital transformation. It makes new product and services easier to develop and also allows banks to not heavily invest in dedicated hardware and software with a limited shelf life, nor the manpower to maintain it. Instead, financial institutions can buy into the infrastructure of a secure, dedicated cloud service provider and focus on driving more money into their business.

In 2020, a new report co-authored by Genesis Analytics (the largest economics-based consulting firm in Africa) and Orange Business Services, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, concludes that cloud computing solutions could help African banks to reduce costs significantly and provide financial services to poorer people who are currently either underserved or unbanked. The report highlights the critical role that regulators should play.

Cloud computing, the report noted, creates an opportunity for financial service providers to rethink their technology investment and significantly reduce costs by using Internet technologies to provide virtual infrastructure that is scalable and delivered as a service. ICT infrastructure and service costs are lower and utilization is higher while helping overcome any ICT skills scarcity.

Isme Oosthuizen, the associate director at BCG Platinion in a column published on Africa Business Communities back in August said banks need to pursue their own path to the cloud.

‘’Cloud adoption—including hybrid and multi-cloud adoption—is expanding fast among both private and public sector organizations of all sizes,’’ she said.

‘’Financial services is the exception to the rule. Instead of rushing to the cloud, banks, credit card and payment companies, and insurers are likely to move toward hybrid or multi-cloud models at a measured pace over several years or more, and the pathways of adoption will include banking software vendors as well as large cloud service providers.’ she added.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at  Incentro Africa.

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Africa is an emerging data center market

Africa is an emerging data center market and has witnessed around 15 data center investments in 2020.  The region is experiencing growth in internet penetration, which can be a major driver for data center investors.

The growth in the adoption of IoT and big data analytics services will result in the rapid growth of data center development in Africa. This is according to a new report by ReportLinker, a market research solution. 

The report, released last week, notes that the market is evolving, and investments are expected to rise significantly with contributions from local and global data center operators.

The continent currently requires a 1000 megawatts and 700 data centers facilities. The demand has been growing over the last decade – following a similar path to industry development across the globe, as content consumption becomes more of a priority

Data centers are being utilized more than ever. ‘’ For example, the world’s largest internet exchange facility, DE-CIX Frankfurt, saw on-average data traffic increases of 10 percent in early March last year as people started staying at home. Our switch to video conferencing, which has seen triple digit growth, is another example of changing habits and the need to understand how our data usage will affect our data centers.’’  Carol Koech, the Country President, Schneider Electric East Africa said in a column published recently.

Last week, Africa Data Centres announced plans to build large hyperscale data centres throughout Africa, including the North African countries of Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.The project will involve building 10 hyperscale data centres, in 10 countries, over the next two years – at a cost of more than US$500m. It is being funded through new equity and facilities from leading development finance institutions and multilateral organisations.

Data center spending is also going up with research firm Gartner estimating that end-user spending on global data center infrastructure is projected to reach US$200 billion in 2021, up 6% from 2020. 

The priority for most companies in 2020 according to Naveen Mishra, senior research director at Gartner is keeping the lights on, so data center growth is generally being pushed back until the market enters the recovery period. Gartner expects larger enterprise data centers sites to hit pause temporarily and then resume expansion plans later this year or early next. However, hyperscalers will continue with their global expansion plans due to continued investments in public cloud.

South Africa is the leading colocation data center market in Africa, with high cloud-based service adoption, increased enterprise digitalization drive, and migration from on-premises facilities expected to drive the data center market in the country.  The market size is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 15.17% during the period 2020−2026. In 2020, Teraco Data Environments, Africa Data Centre, NTT Global Data Centers were the major data center investors in the country. For instance, Teraco Data Environments’ JB1 and JB3 facilities added a space of over 43,000 square feet.

Bottom line, Africa is by far the most exciting region when it comes to digital growth and data centers are the basis of this growth.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at  Incentro Africa.

Introducing Incentro Africa Google Bootcamp: Now available online for free

Incentro and Digicloud have organized a Google bootcamp for both professionals and students. The bootcamp will be run by Google certified engineers and architects from both Kenya and South Africa.

Successful students at the end of the program will sit for an exam and get Google Cloud Certified – attaining one of the most coveted industry recognition, allowing them to validate their expertise and take their careers to the next level. Incentro will also provide the successful candidates with an opportunity to join the team for at the Nairobi office, that will deliver great Google Cloud solutions to the African market.

See program details in the attachments below:

Google Cloud Architect/Security Engineer
Google Collaboration Engineer

This bootcamp is perfect for both undergraduates pursuing an I.T. related degree or diploma or an I.T. professional looking to advance their careers.

Interested?

Sign up by completing these exams and forward the results to googlebootcamp@incentro.com.

Registration closes on 15th September.

See you online! 

For any questions reach out to Matthew Munyiri – matthew.munyiri@incentro.com.

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[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Africa is suited to jump to the cloud more than its peers

The speed at which Africa’s business sector has changed over the past year has been nothing short of astonishing. Business leaders have had their hands full, from enabling remote work on a previously unprecedented scale to adapting to disruptions among many other things. At the center of this change is cloud.

Before the pandemic hit, a number of businesses in Africa were at different stages of their cloud strategies, whether that meant moving their email server to the cloud or upgrading to Google cloud or Microsoft 365. This process has been accelerated as many workers were forced to work remotely.

According to a Synergy Research Group survey, which we wrote about in our last cloud review column,  spending on cloud infrastructure bypassed spending on data center hardware and software for the first time in 2020 . This study shows that spending on cloud infrastructure services (PaaS, IaaS, and hosted private cloud combined) grew by 35 per cent to reach almost $130 billion in 2020, while spending on data center hardware and software dropped more than 5 percent to less than $90 billion over the same period.

Cloud adoption—including hybrid and multi-cloud adoption—is expanding fast among both private and public sector organizations of all sizes.

At the enterprise level, consulting firm BCG estimates that two-thirds of companies globally already use multiple clouds. It predicts that by 2025, up to 60 per cent of consumer-facing applications, almost 40 per cent of data warehouse and analytics workloads, and more than 30 per cent of core business applications will be running on public clouds operated by the likes of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Traditional on-premises technology will handle no more than a third of these workloads.

In Africa, the continent has been suited to jump to the cloud more than its peers. 

”If you look at Africa from an economic development standpoint, you would be quick to assume the continent is not geared up to take advantage of the latest trends in cloud technology. But you would be wrong. ” Winston Ritsonthe Group Head for Cloud Services at Liquid Intelligent Technologies.   says in an OP ED published last week. 

Winston notes that international investors are clamoring to the front of the investment line to fund a boom in the African Cloud Computing market. 

”The proliferation of smartphones, mass adoption of business software and general economic growth prospects have seen a great demand for data centers to be built within continental borders. A young mobile population is driving end-user demand and the potential for the next Cloud boom,” he says.

In the news

Last week, Liquid Intelligent Technologies creates direct access to USA internet resources via a new POP connection to Miami. The new POP is connected to Liquid’s 100,000km of fiber across 11 countries on the continent and another 14 countries via the Operators Alliance Program and Liquid Satellite Services. This results in customers being able to leverage a better connection to the US, giving them access to Cloud services, OTT resources, Internet content and high-quality voice and video calls with family and business partners.

A South African financial institution also partnered with Sapiens on Cloud-Hosted Bancassurance solutions. The financial institution will implement Sapiens’ cloud-hosted, IDITSuite for short-term insurance and Sapiens Intelligence, with the help of Sapiens Managed Services.

Google Cloud and SAP  announced an expanded strategic partnership to help customers execute business transformations, migrate critical business systems to the cloud and augment existing business systems with Google Cloud capabilities in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at  Incentro Africa.

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Moving to the cloud is the key to succeeding in the digital era

Moving to the cloud is the key to succeeding in the digital era. Many business leaders in Africa are making this move to improve security, flexibility, and agility whilst others are doing it to keep relevant and productive, ultimately with the bottom line in mind.

Before the pandemic hit, businesses were at different stages of their cloud strategies, whether that meant moving their email server to the cloud or upgrading to Google cloud or Microsoft 365. This process has been accelerated as many workers were forced to work remotely.

According to a Synergy Research Group survey, spending on cloud infrastructure bypassed spending on data centre hardware and software for the first time in 2020. This study shows that spending on cloud infrastructure services (PaaS, IaaS, and hosted private cloud combined) grew by 35 percent to reach almost $130 billion in 2020, while spending on data centre hardware and software dropped more than 5 percent to less than $90 billion over the same period.

An increasing number of African businesses are reaching a pinnacle of their digital transformation journeys with most of their IT already running in the cloud. However, it’s not only about having a cloud strategy but rather knowing how to use the cloud to its full extent to propel a business into the future. Cloud is giving organisations the ability to simplify and scale their systems landscape without sacrificing performance.

With this in mind, a number of cloud providers have been trying to set base in the continent. Recently, Zadaraannounced Africa’s largest network of interconnected, carrier-and cloud-neutral data center facilities, Africa Data Centres, and service provider Global Sense deployed Zadara’s edge cloud services to their marketplace.  In South Africa, HUAWEI opened applications for its Women4Tech digital training programme. The free online course is open to savvy, tech-forward women entrepreneurs, and aims to advance their skills and help them use new technologies like Cloud Computing  to grow, improve and digitise their businesses.

At the same time, Google Cloud also appointed Niral Patel as Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa. Patel will be based in Johannesburg and will be responsible for leading Google Cloud’s business across Sub-Saharan Africa region. 

As we have mentioned in a previous column, with cloud-enabled intelligent enterprise capabilities, organisations can achieve the speed needed to stay ahead of competitors and other disruptors while maintaining the certainty of measured, data-driven decision-making.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa.

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Increase in connectivity and broadband services is driving huge demand for cloud services in Africa

In our last Africa Cloud Review article, we highlighted extensively how cloud providers are fighting for a share of the growing cloud market in the continent.  As this market grows, it is generating a lot of interest and deals as cloud players and providers position themselves to take advantage of this boom.   

As this happens, the demand for cloud experts is also on the rise. In May this year, tech giant Google announced a new programme to offer new scholarships for Android, Web and Google Cloud development to developers across Africa. The programme will be offered in partnership with tech talent companies Pluralsight and Andela. A total of 40,000 scholarships will be offered to developers spread across Mobile and Cloud development tracks and, at the end of the training, the top 1,000 students will earn a full scholarship to certify in Android or Cloud development. Last week, Global IT consulting firm Accenture also launched the Accenture Cloud Engineering Centre in South Africa to train hundreds of cloud engineers in efforts to fuel Africa’s cloud computing boom.

According to Willie Schoeman, MD of Accenture Technology in Africa, in an article published by IT Web, as data traffic demand and cloud adoption continue to soar in South Africa, the increase in connectivity and broadband services is driving huge demand for more data centres, leading to a widening skills gap. 

In May, Amazon Web Services (AWS) also announced that it’s bringing its re/Start cloud skills training program to Kenya and South Africa this month as part of its rapid expansion plans this year. AWS re/Start is a free, full-time, 12-week program designed to support people who are unemployed or underemployed, and who have little technology experience, for careers in cloud computing. The program provides participants with new cloud computing skills, career and resume coaching, and interviews with local employers.

With all these reports, it’s clear that the continent needs more cloud computing skills. IT professionals in the region need to gain skills in cloud and data architecture due to the rapidly increasing number of organizations subscribing to integrated cloud services in recent years.

Google Cloud

With 24 regions and 73 zones in 17 countries, Google Cloud delivers high-performance, low-latency cloud services to customers. In Africa companies like Incentro have been at the forefront in offering Google Cloud services.

Last week, the company was credited by DigiCloud Africa for its role in expanding Google Cloud in the continent and subsequently being recognised as the Google Cloud Expansion Partner of the Year – Europe, Middle East, and Africa. 

In March this year, the company announced that it has achieved the Google Cloud Partner “Work Transformation” Specialization, in the Google Cloud Partner Specialization Program. By earning the Partner Specialization, Incentro Africa has proven their expertise and success in building customer solutions in the Work Transformation field using Google Cloud Platform technology – such as technical implementation, change management, training and ongoing premium support.

Google Cloud and SAP SE also last week announced an expanded strategic partnership to help customers execute business transformations, migrate critical business systems to the cloud, and augment existing business systems with Google Cloud capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa.