[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.

Orange Business Services to build cloud-based ICT Infrastructure for Egypt’s newest smart city

Orange Business Services, a network-native digital services company, has announced that it will design and build a new data center to provide cloud services for Egypt’s ‘New Administrative Capital’.

The project will be implemented in collaboration with Orange Egypt, who will supply the required infrastructure and services, following their appointment as the project’s prime contractor by Administrative Capital for Urban Development (ACUD) – owner and developer of the New Administrative Capital.

The ACUD project has been designed as a smart sustainable city located 45 kilometers east of Cairo on a greenfield site, covering a total area of 700 square kilometers (270 square miles) mid-way to the seaport city of Suez. According to the plans, it will become the new administrative and financial capital of Egypt, housing the main government departments and ministries, as well as foreign embassies, with a population of around eight million people.

ACUD has defined a master plan for the smart sustainable city based on five main pillars: safety, connectivity, integration, digitalization, and replicability. The ICT strategy is an essential component in the fulfillment of ACUD’s vision, and the new fully secured data center will be a cornerstone of the new city.

The services offered by the data center are planned to start on schedule, in the first half of 2021, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Once implemented, Orange Egypt will also manage and operate the new data center to host and run smart services for the private sector, as well as citizens of the new city, for five years. The smart city services to be supported include traffic management, management of smart utilities, such as electricity, water and gas supply, video surveillance and smart building services. Also included are innovative solutions, such as cloud-on-demand for companies and triple-play services for residents.

Orange has substantial expertise as a master systems integrator and provides this with the convenience of a single team and a ‘one-stop shop approach’. Orange Business Services will leverage its 20 years of experience in delivering critical cloud services across the globe. It will also apply its global and regional expertise in the design, build and construction of smart city networks, developed through its smart city center of excellence in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

“Orange Business Services is especially pleased to be selected as the trusted digital partner to this visionary and transformational project. Cairo is not only one of the oldest and greatest cities of antiquity, but it is also the largest city in North Africa. We have built extensive experience in the development of major smart city projects across the Middle East and especially in the GCC, through our smart city center of excellence at our regional headquarters in Dubai. Orange has operated in Egypt for decades and our knowledge and understanding of the environment will allow us to fully adapt the design of the infrastructure to the needs of the new city,” said Sahem Azzam, Vice President Middle East, Africa and Turkey for Orange Business Services.

“In addition to investing in smart city projects, which Orange is distinguished with its expertise in the fields of digital solutions and smart cities provided by Orange Business Services, Orange also has provided many services to the smart city sector through various partnerships — the most prominent of which is the New Administrative Capital, where the new data center is now being built. It is expected to be one of the largest centers in the Arab world and Africa, with investments of more than $135 million, and aims to enhance data and host all smart city platforms of the Administrative Capital in a secure and integrated way,” said Hisham Marhan, Orange Egypt Chief Enterprise Line of Business Officer.

“What gave Orange the edge is the expertise, as well as the local and international teams it possess that qualify it to provide these services with high efficiency, as well as to manage and operate these projects in accordance with international standards,” added Mahran.

www.orange-business.com