South Africa is now a major hub for big tech’s cloud datacenters

If you wanted a demonstration of how important cloud services have become in Africa, it was the unusual occurrence of high-level executives from both Amazon and Microsoft, the world’s biggest providers, being in South Africa at the same time this month.

Yousef Khalidi, Microsoft’s corporate vice-president of Azure Networking, was in Johannesburg to announce two data centers in the country; while Amazon’s chief technology officer, Werner Vogels, was also in town to launch the first so-called “Pop-up Loft” in Africa. This comes ahead of Amazon Web Services (AWS) first datacenter to be opened in Cape Town in the first quarter of 2020.

Data center

“It was sheer coincidence,” says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of researchers World Wide Worx, “but the presence of the bosses of the two biggest cloud computing platforms in the world made South Africa seem like an eligible single being wooed by highly desirable suitors”.

Microsoft, Amazon and Huawei are all making a bet a billion-dollar bet on the growth of Africa’s digital economy

And it’s not just the big American companies, Huawei, China’s giant telecoms company, is also building out data center in South Africa and announced it had begun offering commercial cloud services this month. It’s easy to see why. South Africa is the continent’s most developed economy, has advanced internet infrastructure and often hosts the African head office for many global technology and internet firms.

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