Amazon to launch a new AWS Local Zone cloud infrastructure in Kenya

Amazon Web Services has announced plans to launch an AWS Local Zone in Kenya.  AWS, an Amazon.com, Inc. company made this announcement at the ongoing Connected Summit 2022 in Diani, Kwale County.

The new AWS Local Zone(s) in Kenya will join 16 existing AWS Local Zones across the United States and an additional 32 AWS Local Zones planned to launch in 26 countries around the world starting in 2022. AWS Local Zones deliver single-digit millisecond latency performance at the edge of the cloud to hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

“The new AWS Local Zone in Kenya is a continuation of our investment to support customers of all kinds and our commitment to accelerate innovation by bringing cloud infrastructure to more locations in the country. We know that delivering ultra-low latency applications for a seamless user experience matters in every business and industry, so we are excited to bring the edge of the cloud closer to more customers in Kenya to help meet their requirements. ” Robin Njiru, Regional Lead, East, West and Central Africa at AWS said.

Njiru says AWS Local Zones will empower more public and private organizations, innovative startups, and AWS partners to deliver a new generation of leading edge, low-latency applications to end users. 

Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs, Mr Joseph Mucheru said the announcement reaffirms our Kenya’s position as an attractive place to invest, powered by a high volume of local talented developers. ”It will boost the adoption of advanced cloud-based technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Internet of Things while helping to ensure secure use across the Kenyan technology sector.” he said.

AWS manages and supports Local Zones, meaning customers in Kenya do not need to incur the expense and effort of procuring, operating, and maintaining infrastructure in Nairobi to support low-latency applications. AWS Local Zones also allow customers with local data residency requirements in Kenya to run parts of their applications in on-premises data centers and seamlessly connect to AWS while ensuring ultra-low latency for these types of hybrid deployments—all while using familiar AWS APIs and tools.

The new AWS Local Zones will give customers in Kenya the ability to offer end users single-digit millisecond performance designed to suit applications such as remote real-time gaming, media and entertainment content creation, live video streaming, engineering simulations, augmented and virtual reality, machine learning inference at the edge, and more.

Customers can connect to AWS Local Zones through an internet connection or use AWS Direct Connect—a cloud service that links an organization’s network directly to AWS to deliver consistent, secure, low-latency performance—to route traffic over a private AWS network connection.

AWS Local Zones are a type of infrastructure deployment that places AWS compute, storage, database, and other services at the edge of the cloud near large population, industry, and information technology (IT) centers—enabling customers to deploy applications that require single-digit millisecond latency closer to end users or on-premises data centers. AWS Local Zones allow customers to use core AWS services locally while seamlessly connecting to the rest of their workloads running in AWS Regions with the same elasticity, pay-as-you-go model, application programming interfaces (APIs), and toolsets.

The announcement comes more than two years after Kenya’s leading telco Safaricom announced a partnership with Amazon to resell AWS services in Kenya and throughout East Africa.

On top of reselling AWS services, the telco also was also included as an Advanced Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN), a partner program for technology and consulting businesses that leverage AWS “to build solutions and services for customers.

Peter Ndegwa, CEO of Safaricom PLC said the new AWS Local Zone will enable Safaricom to further enhance its cloud offerings, especially to its Enterprise and SME customers, and migrate more of its own services to the Cloud.  ”Customer obsession remains a key focus for Safaricom and with this local presence driven by our partnership with Amazon, we will now achieve increased speed, stability, reliability, and storage to support innovation and development of future-fit solutions,” Peter added.

aws.amazon.com

[Kenya] Zalego Academy Joins the Amazon Web Services Training Partner Program

Zalego Academy, a subsidiary of StepWise Inc. that focuses on ICT training and enhancing the employability of youth and people from underserved communities has joined the Amazon Web Service Training partner program. 

Zalego Academy will now work with AWS to deliver training and certification for cloud skills to learners in Kenya and will concentrate on social impact initiatives. This training will not only enable cloud fluency for unemployed youth and graduates to leverage the power of cloud but will also create a new pathway of economic opportunity for young people to partake in cloud computing jobs. 

This Training Partner Program is designed for organizations like Zalego Academy, that meet or exceed rigorous criteria for delivering and or offering high-quality technical training.  

“Organizations need individuals with cloud skills to help transform their business, and there is a growing demand for IT professionals with cloud skills. AWS Training and Certification, along with our Training Partners like Zalego Academy, aims to equip the builders of today and tomorrow with the knowledge they need to leverage the power of cloud. AWS Training, designed by experts, teaches in-demand cloud skills and best practices, helping learners prepare for AWS Certification exams so they can advance their careers and transform their organizations,” said Maureen Lonergan Vice President, AWS Training and Certification.

“We strongly believe that with the support of AWS, Zalego Academy can build innovative programs that have a lasting impact, particularly to the underserved and underrepresented in Africa,” said Chris Harrison, CEO StepWise.  “Delivering AWS Training and Certification is perfectly aligned with StepWise’s purpose of preparing an inclusive talent pipeline and creating sustainable employment for a technology-driven world.”

As a Training Partner, Zalego Academy plans to deliver authorized AWS Training and work with partner organizations to develop future-focused strategies, to enhance the employability of youth and people from underserved communities. It will also deliver trainings intentionally built for non-traditional learners of all abilities to engage in, (i.e., in-person, sign language interpreters, video captioning and wheelchair accessible space).

The training is developed and maintained by cloud experts, ensuring the content reflects current best practices. AWS Classroom Training gives learners the opportunity to engage live and get questions answered by an expert instructor. Many courses also include hands-on labs, allowing learners to practice real-world scenarios in a sandbox environment. Training also helps prepare learners for the cloud service provider’s certification exams, which validate technical skills and expertise with an industry-recognized credential.

“AWS Courses will not only enable the underserved communities in tech to acquire the skills needed to earn a living-wage job upon graduation, but will also enable them to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families,” said Peres Were-Ogaga, Executive Director, StepWise Foundation.

StepWise is focused particularly on enhancing economic inclusion in Africa through the creation of digital jobs for people from disadvantaged communities, women, the chronically unemployed, and individuals with disabilities. Through the Foundation’s Scholarship Program, Zalego Academy provides individuals with disabilities and underserved youth in East Africa, with career-ready technology skills through programs that are aligned with the current and future job market. These demands are driven by advancements in technology.

[Column] Tejpal Bedi: Kenya’s data centres – Essential infrastructure for expanding our digital economy

Although most of us don’t usually spend much time thinking about data centres, they play a fundamental role in the origin, delivery, and maintenance of Internet services and networks. And our need for them is growing as more people use the Internet to join the digital economy. Global traffic surged by more than 40% in 2020 as a result of increased video streaming, teleconferencing, online gaming, and social networking. The number of global Internet users has doubled since 2010, and with that increase comes the need for data centres that can not only cater for current requirements, but also for future loads that require even more complex computing capabilities.

In an African context, countries such as Kenya and Uganda have seen increased investment and interest from multinational operators. We see this with data centre operator Raxio launching its first carrier-neutral centre in Kampala in 2021. Other examples include PAIX building a data centre in Nairobi’s financial district, and Asteroid International expanding its Kenyan Internet exchange service from Mombasa to Nairobi. Combined with the increasing investment from hyperscalers such as AWS, Google, and Meta, the end result of this is more value for end users and enterprises in the East African region, with better speeds, better pricing, and a blossoming digital economy.

In Kenya, more data centres, and their surrounding technology infrastructure, could change how people and businesses engage with global networks and systems. To do that, it’s important to know what that infrastructure looks like, and what it is capable of. 

Inside a data centre

What do you see when you imagine a data centre? Perhaps a giant warehouse filled with endless corridors of blinking server towers, storing data or serving as a junction point through which data passes on its journey from A to B. However, today’s data centres are more complex. They are designed to support multiple on-site and cloud activities, especially when it comes to business IT. A data centre can support email and file sharing customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and databases, virtual desktops and communication services, as well as evolving applications in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Centres are comprised of servers, routers, switches, firewalls, and service delivery controllers, all vital components that work together to deliver comprehensive functionality.

While there are various kinds of centres that cater to specific services, colocation centres and carrier-neutral facilities are two of the most common; both of which serve important purposes for all kinds of enterprises. Simply put, colocation centres offer a space, both physical and virtual, for companies to store and manage their servers and other infrastructure, while carrier-neutral centres are independent entities offering various connection options to customers, including direct connections and cloud services.

The impact of Kenya’s data centres

Considered the gateway to the East Africa region, Kenya plays an important geographical and logistical role in the rollout of Internet connectivity and services on the continent. Our country enjoys the presence of several local facility operators that have grown and expanded in part thanks to acquisitions or partnerships with global operators, while also offering end-to-end solutions for companies of all sizes. Investments in broadband undersea cables and landing stations enable accessibility, connecting the continent to global cloud networks and serving as the bedrock on which Kenya can embrace cutting-edge digital solutions. 

According to the Kenya Data Centre Investment Analysis Report, our data centre market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.36% between 2021 and 2026. Kenya serves as of one the continent’s primary data centre hubs. Nairobi is a favourable location for data centre development, with Mombasa becoming more popular with service providers as well. Data centres enable the growing adoption of big data and Internet of Things (IoT) services, while the demand for original design manufacturer (ODM) servers among operators also fuels growth in server infrastructure. These factors contribute to Kenya’s position not only as a continental leader, but also as an opportunity hotbed for technology sectors. 

Innovation, energy, and the future

Despite this potential, Africa’s hosting capacity remains minimal. The continent’s capacity is only a fraction of some of the world’s largest data centre metros, such as London or Amsterdam. However, new facility construction has accelerated as markets consider hosting and cloud service opportunities. Reliable data centre infrastructure, as offered and maintained by reputable service providers, mean users in Nairobi can utilise AI, blockchain and other digital resources with the same level of security and ease as other users in the overseas metros.

This infrastructure, and its energy requirements, also raises environmental considerations that are being addressed. Growing demand for data centres continues to be mostly offset by ongoing efficiency improvements in servers, switches, and other infrastructure. Combined with mobile networks switching from 2G and 3G technologies to more efficient 4G and 5G ones, data centres are becoming increasingly energy efficient.

From fledgling start-ups to large corporates, we can’t underestimate the importance of data centres when it comes to delivering Internet solutions and unlocking digital opportunities. With data centres offering so much to the Kenyan economy and individual businesses, it’s a good time for companies to prioritise finding reliable ICT partners and service providers of data hosting facilities.

Tejpal Bedi is the SEACOM Managing Director and Regional Head of Sales for the ENEA region.

[Column] Francis Wainaina: How cloud technology could transform manufacturing in Africa

Globally, the manufacturing sector plays a significant role in driving economic growth, job creation, and lifting people out of poverty. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, global manufacturing output has been in decline and Kenyan manufacturers say they are now prioritising cost reduction, increasing revenue, retaining jobs, and improving cash flow. At the same time, with the Fourth Industrial Revolution underway, manufacturers are being pushed to embrace technological development – or risk losing business to more technologically advanced competitors.

Cloud technologies offer manufacturers a solution to this, providing speed, agility, cost savings, and innovation advantages that could accelerate the recovery of the manufacturing sector as well as increase Kenya’s global competitiveness. The African Continental Free Trade Area, Kenya-USA Free Trade Area, Kenya-UK Free Trade Area, and the European Union, under the Economic Partnership Agreements, all present enormous export opportunities for our country, but our manufacturing sector cannot fully capitalise on these global markets without undergoing significant digital transformation.

Kenya’s vision

In 2008, the Kenyan government launched Kenya Vision 2030 with a long-term national development strategy to transform Kenya into a globally competitive industrial hub. Under the Big Four Agenda, the government hopes to increase the manufacturing sector’s contribution to Kenya’s GDP to 15% by 2022. 

The Competitive Industrial Performance Index Report (2020), which benchmarks our ability to produce and export manufactured goods competitively, ranked Kenya 115th out of 152 countries.  While this places us as a leader in East Africa, Kenya’s manufacturing sector still has a long way to go – and the pandemic has not made things easier. In May 2020, a KAM-KPMG survey showed that 53% of manufacturers were operating below 50% capacity during the pandemic. Although manufacturing’s contribution to GDP decreased from 7.8% in 2018 to 7.5% in 2019, the sector also saw an increase from KSh. 690.6 billion to Ksh. 734.6 billion in value added over the same period – largely due to increased output in the manufacturing of transport equipment, chemicals, and chemical products and pharmaceuticals.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers developed the Manufacturing Priority Agenda 2021 to accelerate the recovery of Kenya’s manufacturing sector, with enhanced digitalisation as one of the seven key agendas to “enhance productivity, induce innovation, and enhance resource efficiency”.

The future of manufacturing

In the past, the prevailing winning strategies for manufacturers were large production sites, long product life-cycles, vertical integration, and a heavy investment in costly on-premise systems. But the face of manufacturing has changed, and today’s manufacturers do not only compete by the size and scale of their operations, but also by their speed and agility. For example, many plants today are distributed across the globe and dependent on a constantly fluctuating global supply chain, which necessitates more flexible and data-driven approaches to supply chain management. 

As is the case in most other sectors, the future of manufacturing now belongs to those who can successfully adopt technologies such as machine learning and automation, big data, or IoT. Cloud systems enable these forward-facing technologies, which is why 46% of respondents in Africa’s manufacturing sector, according to a study by World Wide Worx, reported an increased spend on cloud services.

Why manufacturers are using the cloud

Efficient manufacturing is about accomplishing more with fewer resources without compromising on quality. It is also about effectively managing communication between suppliers and distributors, streamlining production schedules through real-time and insight-driven monitoring, and minimising operational costs.

Cloud technologies play directly into all of this, and while some of these capabilities are possible with on-premise systems, cloud-based systems are much faster and more cost-effective to roll out, enable easier customisation and flexibility, allow for scalability, and open the door for innovation. Manufacturers often compete in highly regulated industries where being first-to-market is crucial, and cloud computing is making it possible for them to reduce the time it takes to conduct strategic sourcing, quality audits, supply chain management, optimisation, and more accurate forecasting.

Developing scalable manufacturing intelligence across various plants can be achieved at a much lower cost and with greater accuracy using cloud systems, which can provide real-time insights into production performance using one central dashboard. Cloud-based monitoring systems also allow production processes to be fine-tuned actively and with greater accuracy, making it easier to identify bottlenecks and make configuration changes from any location.

Legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that do not run in the cloud were not designed for complex compliance reporting requirements, which is becoming increasingly important in the manufacturing sector. Cloud computing is making it possible to integrate these legacy systems with the cloud and define entirely new metrics and performance indicators.

Unlocking Africa’s potential

As industries and businesses adapt to working in the digital-first world, digital transformation has become critical to success. Cloud technologies have become a pillar of the modern business world, and the manufacturing sector is certainly no exception. To accelerate the growth of Kenya’s economy through improved manufacturing capabilities, we need to follow international trends and take advantage of all the opportunities that cloud has to offer.

Francis Wainaina is a Senior Product Manager at SEACOM East Africa.

[Kenya] AAR Insurance partners with Safaricom to migrate to the cloud

AAR Insurance has inked a deal with telecommunications provider Safaricom to roll out new technology infrastructure based on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) as part of its goal to be a full digital insurance company.

The medical underwriter has begun migrating its digital tools and core systems to the AWS platform in a move that will offer clients more secure and efficient digital services.

The AWS cloud computing service will also help interface AAR Insurance digital channels – Mobile Apps, USSD services, web portals and chatbots – with the company’s core insurance technology systems thus enhancing operational efficiency while reducing costs and service downtime.

AAR Insurance Kenya Managing Director, Nixon Shigoli, says migrating all the core insurance platforms and business Applications to AWS will help the company achieve its strategic goals on digital transformation including moving all client interactions to mobile.

“AWS offers services that are affordable and flexible to grow with us as our business evolves. Besides providing enhanced and robust security features to support our business data infrastructure, AWS is reliable and customizable to our unique environment,” said Mr. Shigoli.

He added that Cloud infrastructure is critical to AAR operations as it will enable rapid deployment of Applications and is easy to adjust as needs and resource demands change.

“Moving our information assets, core systems and digital tools to the Cloud presents attractive opportunities for the realization of our goal of being a full digital insurance provider, by creating an environment for customers to enjoy end-to-end services through their phones and digital devices,” he added.

The AWS Cloud service uses the pay-as-you-go model meaning AAR Insurance will no longer have to deploy expensive hardware infrastructure on premise.

On his part, Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa says the AWS Cloud infrastructure offers businesses, including insurance firms, a highly scalable and secure experience to grow and support digital channels.

“AAR Insurance Kenya becomes the first insurance company locally for whom we are implementing the AWS Cloud platform. We are delighted to be part of the digital transformation at AAR and overall growth of digital insurance in Kenya,” said Mr. Ndegwa.

He pointed out that an increasingly digital consumer ecosystem requires robust technology infrastructure to support web Applications among other critical tools underpinning a superior customer experience.

“Cloud is the new normal and most businesses today have either already moved their operations into the cloud or are in the process of migrating,” explained the Safaricom boss.

So far, AAR Insurance has rolled out a number of digital platforms through which clients can enroll and pay for medical, travel and personal accident insurance, manage and track treatment expenses, using phones and other devices. They can also interact real-time with AAR Insurance through WhatsApp.

www.aar-insurance.com

www.safaricom.co.ke

[Kenya] FirstWave announces level one partner agreement with Moja Access

Global, cybersecurity-as-a-service company, FirstWave Cloud Technology Limited  has announced the signing of a three-year Level 1 Partner Agreement with Moja Access, part of CSquared Group, a pan-African technology company.

The First revenues to flow immediately under ‘oppt-out’ path to market.

Moja Access is the Kenya-based operating company of CSquared, a panAfrican operator of wholesale and open-access fibre and WiFi infrastructure in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Liberia. 

 CSquared currently operates fibre and last mile WiFi networks in these cities, with over 40 mobile operators and internet service providers relying on its infrastructure for serving mobile consumers and corporate customers.

These four African nations had over 10 million Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and over 70 million internet users at the end of 2020. In the initial phase of this partnership, FirstWave has deployed its recently launched FirstCloud™ WebProtect DNS platform for each of CSquared’s four territories for use by CSquared’s operating companies and Level 2 partners.

CSquared’s operating companies’ partners and their end-customers will get the web security solution as part of their internet service on an “opt-out” basis. As a consequence, revenue generation will commence immediately, and end-customers can ‘opt-out’ if, for any reason, they decide they do not want the service.

Moja Access is currently in conversations with customers for uptake of this service. The Partnership Agreement is for a 3-year term with rolling 6-month extension options thereafter and in keeping with FirstWave’s service proposition – democratising enterprise-grade cybersecurity-as-a service – the vast number of MSMEs and Internet users across these 4 African nations can now be protected on CSquared’s network from cyber intruders, on a consumption basis, at an affordable monthly price.

Lanre Kolade, Group CEO of CSquared, said, “We are very excited to have signed this partnership with FirstWave. Our clients, including Telcos and Internet Service Providers, will benefit from FirstWave’s differentiated SaaS products. It will allow us to rapidly deploy and sell on a consumption based monthly pricing model, enterprise grade cybersecurity services to all our clients and their end-customers, large and small.”

FirstWave’s CEO, Neil Pollock explained, “I’m delighted to welcome CSquared Group’s Moja Access as our 8 th Level 1 partner and see initial revenues already flowing from the partnership. CSquared is a fast-growing panAfrican service provider backed by two large global corporations Google LLC and Mitsui & Co. CSquared already delivers robust fibre connectivity and internet access to thousands of end-customers via its 40+ mobile operator and ISP clients. With revenues already delivered, the partnership has had a really positive start.” This announcement has been approved for release by the Board of Directors.

www.firstwavecloud.com

www.csquared.com

[Interview] Dennis De Weerd, CEO, Incentro Africa

Dennis De Weerd is the CEO at Incentro Africa, an IT service provider delivering custom build cloud-based software solutions for the European and African market.

Kindly introduce Incentro

Incentro is an IT services provider with offices in the Netherlands, Spain and Kenya. Incentro Africa delivers high-quality custom build cloud-based software solutions for the European and African market. With Dutch development standards and close collaboration with the Fair Trade Software Foundation, we deliver software solutions that both impact our customers and staff. We are founded on the ambitions to make CSR more core of what we do and therefore we always look to apply our unique skills to build software solutions that contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. 

As the only Google Premier Partner in the region we support organizations across the African continent to work effectively from wherever they are. Especially relevant these days. We do this by deploying Cloud-based solutions like Google Workspace, Chromebooks and Cloud infrastructure. From migration from local data centers to Cloud to the development of cloud-native applications, Google Cloud is our tool of choice and we are incredibly proud to call ourselves the only Work transformation enterprise specialist on the continent.

The demand for cloud services is growing rapidly in Africa. How would you describe this growth?

With increasing connectivity and availability of reliable and cheap internet across the continent, it has changed the way people work. Cloud is a leapfrog technology, comparable to the introduction of the mobile phone and we are just at the beginning of it. Especially now the pandemic we’ve seen a major uptake in the use of cloud-based solutions, by even the most traditional companies.

Let me give you some examples to demonstrate what I’m talking about:  For instance, we migrated the Central Bank of West African States to Google Cloud based productivity suite Workspace in less than a week when a lockdown was looming. From working with traditional infrastructure from a central office to a highly secure cloud-based productivity suite that allowed their staff to work from home and boost their productivity with easy to use tools. So there are a few drivers here that boosted the uptake, but it was already unavoidable that this new way of working is the standard. Let me give you another one. Consider your startup, you want to offer a new service in a traditional industry. Let’s say you are a fintech, offering quick and reliable credit scores for smallholder farmers.

Are you going to invest and buy a server, even when you don’t have customers yet and you are stressed for funding? Are you going to create extensive scoring algorithms or prefer to train an AI model? Right, you’d choose to go for a cloud-based solution that offers you a pay per use model, is available right away, limitlessly scalable and offers all the great technology with the click of a button. But it’s not only for start-ups. Let say you are a large enterprise running SAP on your on premise infrastructure. You need to procure the hardware and software, maintain the services and facility and know-how to support your staff and keep the environments secure. Let’s say you are a large retailer, selling through stores and online. You’d need to provision your hardware for the projected performance you need for multiple years and take peak loads into account. For instance for black Friday or back to school campaigns. But most of the time the hardware is just sitting there ideally, no one is buying during the night time hours. Now put this in the cloud, you just pay for what you use, optimize to make sure you don’t use any resources at night and scale to manage that peak load on black Friday. 

These are just a few examples of the power of the cloud. So the trend we’ve seen in the US and Europe can be seen in Africa as well. It’s a leapfrog technology that allows organisations to deliver high performance as little costs and overhead. It keeps organisations lean and those companies that understand this, and of course it is mostly digital natives, are able to disrupt traditional markets and industries by delighting customers with new services. Completely changing the game and leaving big, slow enterprises behind.

African cloud computing market is generating a lot of interest and deals. Players like Incentro are positioning themselves for the boom in data services on the continent. What does this mean for companies like yours?

For us it means we are substantially investing in technical knowledge and growing our team of certified Cloud consultants rapidly so we are ready when it does. It’s good to understand that when we started in Kenya there were no certified Google Cloud Architects in the whole country, so in order to offer this service, we need to train and certify talented technical consultants to do this work. 

But it is not only about being able to do the work, it’s also important to educate the market. To date, most companies have no cloud strategy and there’s a lot of misinformation and misinterpretation of local regulations and a general lack of knowledge of cloud. So we invest heavily in the growth of not only our technical team but also a commercial team that is able to educate the market in the value proposition of cloud services.

Though we started early we see things are moving now. When we started our cloud proposition over 2 years ago, there was little demand, but the pandemic has accelerated this in many cases, though we expect the big uptake to take place from late 2021 and 2022. It is only when these digital strategies start to include cloud strategy and procurement teams understand how to procure for cloud that this will happen. We have seen this explosive, accelerating uptake in cloud services in the European market where the cloud market is projected to triple from >$25B in 2018 to <$75B in 2026.

Why is there a need for African businesses to migrate to the cloud?

It depends on the organisation. As mentioned in my previous examples there are different motivations for the different companies, but overall we see most of our customers make the move because it is more secure, scalable and more affordable. Large enterprises unburden their IT department from maintaining infrastructure and enable them to contribute to business goals. For startups, it’s a cheap and convenient way to get started and use amazing technology that is only available on the Cloud.

What are some of your success stories as Incentro?

Last year, we received a call from the Central Bank of West African States, responsible for the economy of 8 countries in West Africa. Their traditional infrastructure didn’t allow them to work from home and with a pending lockdown, they needed a solution, quick. We’ve been able to migrate and onboard them in less than a week’s time. This story even made it to Forbes Africa magazine and we are incredibly proud to have been the ones that made this happen. 

Another story we are very proud of is the one of Text Book Centre. They had been conflicted between choosing from renewing their on-premise hardware or choosing to go to cloud to run their company critically software. When the pandemic hit, the choice became obvious. Getting hardware in, sending people to maintain your data center, deliver high performance for a distributed workforce, being scalable (up and down) in uncertain times. All no brainers to choose for cloud over on-premise. Of course it is scary to take that leap and transition your core systems to Cloud.

“This was the most seamless digital transition I have experienced.”- Armand Houhau, MD Text Book Centre told us.

What makes your services stand out?

In the market, we sadly see a lot of resellers. Just pushing licences, without understanding the product or service they are offering. Incentro has 25+ years of experience as IT consultants and it’s in our nature. We focus on high-quality services, delivered by trained and certified professionals. From sales, through technical consultants to our 24/7 support team. We understand that Workspace and Cloud services are just tools that help your business to succeed. But only when applied well. Therefore we invest a lot in understanding our clients and coming up with tailor-made workshops, training and change management programs, etc. Adoption is key for us. We use our extensive experience to deliver this unique service to our customers, which are currently in 26 countries in Africa. By being the only Google Premier Partner in East Africa and the only Work transformation enterprise specialists on the continent we are awarded by Google for the impact we make on our clients. 

When you receive such amazing feedback after migration, you can only be very proud of your team that made this possible.

Who are some of your cloud partners and which customers you work with?

We work exclusively with Google Cloud. Their global infrastructure, completely designed and owned by Google has no equal. Did you know that ⅓ of all internet traffic flows through the Google network? Where other cloud providers are a patchwork of different data centres and ISP’s, each Google data centre is designed and built by Google to deliver great performance. Together with very competitive prices, unique services and product offerings, we decided that Google Cloud is our tool of choice and invest heavily in understanding every detail and ability of it. Google is one of the major 3 global Cloud providers. Though it might be the best-kept secret in the African market, for now. 

Any latest news from your company?

In December our technical team in Kenya worked amazingly hard to build a platform for Dutch people to celebrate New Year’s Eve from home. With 250+ artists joining in by offering live streams we have been able to reach +650k people that joined in on new year’s eve to celebrate New Year together. Built in about 3.5 weeks by a small team, of course using Google Cloud. Intense, but fun and very rewarding to work on.

www.incentro.com/en-ke/

Incentro has these vacancies:

[Vacancy] Incentro is looking for a Workspace Support Agent in Nairobi

[Vacancy] Incentro is looking for a Mid-level Google Cloud specialist in Nairobi

[Poste vacant] Incentro recherche un agent de support pour l’espace de travail à Nairobi

[Kenya] Businesses to increase spending on cloud services by over 50% in 2021

Enterprises in Kenya are set to increase their expenditure on cloud computing services by 68 per cent in 2021 up from 38 per cent in 2020. This is according to the “Africa in the Cloud 2020” study by World Wide Worx conducted among eight African countries.

The study notes that there has been an increased spend on cloud services. The big shift in spending is accredited to an increase in hyper-scale data centres within the continent. Kenya for instance increased its cloud spend by 38 per cent with South Africa leading with an 82 per cent increase in cloud uptake.

“Businesses that had digitally transformed their operations recorded a 71 per cent increase in productivity, compared to their counterparts who had not done so and only achieved 21 per cent increase in productivity,” stated Arthur Goldstruck, a media analyst and commentator on ICT, mobile communications and technologies.

The Banking and Manufacturing sectors, recorded the highest spend on cloud services adoption with 53 per cent and 46 per cent respectively. Mr. Goldstruck added that going by the data from the study, it is evident that digital transformation in Africa is on the rise and organizations’ priority on cloud spend, is proof of it. 63% of the companies interviewed in the study indicated their top reasons for cloud adoption as driving business efficiency followed by operational flexibility and customer service which averaged at 53 per cent and 45 per cent respectively. Additionally, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of things and Big Data were noted as other business trends of priority to organizations in various sectors in the next three years. Their significance, ranked 80 per cent and above in the majority of the countries in the study. The key industry sectors keen on adopting the tech trends highlighted were Manufacturing, Insurance and Financial Services, Information Technology, Non-Governmental and Non-Profit Organizations and Banking.

“Digital awakening is no longer a choice but a necessity for the new future,” added Mr. Goldstruck.

Speaking during the session, Ms. Deirdre Fryer, Head of Solutions Engineering- SYSPRO Africa indicated that creating competitive advantage, creating new business models and improving customer experience are the 3 focus areas businesses should take into consideration when determining what they want to achieve from their digital transformation journey.  “We have seen a substantial digital awakening in Africa and if businesses adopt digital transformation in the mentioned focus areas, they are bound to greatly benefit and remain competitive in their respective sectors, stated Ms. Fryer.

Organizations such as Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS) and Synresins, whose CEOs Jane Masiga and Mira Shah were present at the meeting, use SYSPRO’s ERP solution and other cloud business solutions to automate the majority of their operations, ranging from supply chain management to customer care. They both indicated that despite the perceived high cost of digitization, the cost benefits outweigh the initial cost of adoption.

www.syspro.com

[Kenya] Safaricom to accelerate cloud adoption in with Amazon Web Services

Safaricom has announced a strategic agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS), which will see the Telco become a reseller of AWS services.

Safaricom has announced a strategic agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS), which will see the Telco become a reseller of AWS services.

The agreement is designed to accelerate Safaricom’s internal IT transformation, lower costs and provide it with a blueprint and skilled resources to assist customers with their journey to the cloud.

“We chose to partner with AWS because it offers customers the broadest and deepest cloud platform, overall commitment to security excellence, and a strong culture of customer obsession. This agreement will allow us to accelerate our efforts to enable digital transformation in Kenya,” said Michael Joseph, Chief Executive Officer, Safaricom.

In addition, Safaricom will be able to offer AWS services to East-African customers, allowing businesses of all sizes to quickly get started on AWS cloud and accelerate innovation.

Safaricom also announced the attainment of Advanced Consulting Partner status in the AWS Partner Network (APN), becoming one of the first APN members in East Africa. The APN is the global partner program for technology and consulting businesses who leverage AWS to build solutions and services for customers.

The APN helps companies build, market, and sell their AWS offerings by providing valuable business, technical, and marketing support. This achievement recognizes the skills, knowledge and experience in AWS cloud services that the Safaricom PLC team has gained.

Safaricom’s announcement to work with AWS has been met with interest by customers, with enterprises, startups, and government agencies expressing a desire to use the partnership to build their cloud strategy.

www.safaricom.co.ke

[Kenya] CloudHop inks deal with Nasdaq Governance Solutions to provide clients with solution that enhances corporate governance

Cloud solutions provider in Kenya, CloudHop, has partnered with Nasdaq Governance Solutions, a business of Nasdaq Inc. to provide its clients in Eastern Africa with access to Nasdaq Boardvantage®, a board portal and collaboration software solution.

Nasdaq Boardvantage allows boards and leadership teams to work together more efficiently, productively, and strategically.

For the corporate secretary, general counsel and meeting administrators, the platform offers an exceptionally flexible, secure and user-friendly interface to help increase productivity during and in between meetings.

For board directors and senior executives, the solution helps manage critical tasks inside and outside the boardroom with biometric ID sign-on, intuitive notification, and collaboration tools.

Nasdaq built the platform with industry-standard encryption and multi-factor authentication to protect a user’s most sensitive information.

“We pride ourselves in helping our customers put smart to work with the best of breed applications. We are therefore delighted to be partnering with Nasdaq on this groundbreaking solution that will without doubt transform how corporates manage their corporate governance function,” said Mr Keval Shah, Co-CEO, Cloudhop.

“We are encouraged by the demand across East Africa for our board portal and collaboration technology and are pleased to partner with CloudHop to engage with governance professionals in the region who are seeking new ways to enhance their corporate governance practices,” said Mr Mike Bartels, President, Nasdaq Governance Solutions.

Nasdaq Boardvantage is recognized as a 2019 American Business Awards Bronze Stevie Winner for Sales & Customer Service; 2018 American Business Awards Gold Stevie Award Winner for Best New Product of the Year, Bronze Stevie Award Winner for Software Customer Service Department of the Year, and Bronze Stevie Award Winner for Front-Line Customer Service Team of the Year; 2018 RiskTech 100 Category Winner for Operational Risk & GRC; and 2018 6th Annual Best in Biz Awards International Winner.

www.cloudhop.it

www.nasdaq.com