The heart of cloud in Africa will be in Nigeria
Cloud has transformed the way companies do business all over the world. From offering companies more flexibility to drastically reducing the need for expensive hardware and software, it’s plain to see why the use of cloud is rapidly growing worldwide.
It is predicted that global cloud traffic will reach 8.6ZB (719EB per month) by 2019, up from 2.1ZB (176EB per month) in 2014. In Africa, cloud has a presence but adoption lags behind the developed world. A 2014 research paper from IDG Connect revealed Nigeria and South Africa as the countries with the highest rate of cloud adoption among the five countries profiled. Nigeria’s cloud tech market is estimated to be worth around $100 million a year [http://m.guardian.ng/technology/nigerias-cloud-tech-market-worth-100m-yearly/] and there are big opportunities to develop it.
But what exactly is cloud?
Some people are still confused by what it means, despite the fact many of us are using it in some capacity already, courtesy of platforms like Google Drive and DropBox.
“Simply put ‘cloud’ refers to sharing [computing] services,” said Tunde Coker, CEO of Rack Centre, a Tier III Design Certified data centre in Lagos. Cloud computing doesn’t rely on local servers to handle applications it relies on the “cloud,” a metaphor for the internet. “You might get an app from the cloud for enterprise research or planning for your email,” Coker continued. “ You can actually get your business up and running very quickly without investing in your own infrastructure and it’s secure.”is Nigeria ready for a cloud revolution?
Is Nigeria ready for a cloud revolution?
Coker thinks so and argues that the adoption of cloud will revolutionise the way Nigerian companies operate, particularly SMES which make up of the bulk of businesses in Nigeria. This trend is already underway abroad. A study by BCSG of SMBSs in Western Europe revealed that 64% are already using cloud services, with 78% expressing the desire to purchase new cloud solutions in the coming years.
This trend is already underway abroad. A study by BCSG of SMBSs in Western Europe revealed that 64% are already using cloud services, with 78% expressing the desire to purchase new cloud solutions in the coming years.
“Cloud would transform SMEs [in Nigeria], he said. “They need to be able to run effectively and efficiently, they need to run with email services, ICT SMEs need access to computing resources to build their applications and so on. The cost of entry is significantly lower for SMEs that means they can get into the market on a pay as you go basis [which is beneficial] because most don’t have the capital expenditure to pay for expensive services. You can buy just what you need, for what you need and if you to, expand.
And it’s not just SMEs that seek to benefit, “Corporations can acquire IT solutions on a pay as you go basis, on a scale as you go basis to meet demand. [Cloud] allows them to set up much quicker than if they had to build themselves.”
Access to high speed internet was a challenge in cloud adoption but with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reiterating that the provision of broadband is a central focus of their agenda, those concerns may soon be in the past. The declaration of MTN’s recent win of the NCC’s 2.6GHz spectrum auction was described by the Commission as a “significant trigger for the broadband revolution.”
The availability of world class data management facilities was another challenge, but Coker maintains that things are changing there too. “You need to have somewhere with core infrastructure in place, somewhere like Rack Centre,” he said. “It’s an environment where you can reliably and securely host the IT infrastructure that you need to provide cloud services. About three years ago people went abroad because they didn’t have a choice, they didn’t have a world class choice. Now we have world class capability in Nigeria. The heart of cloud computing in Africa will soon be in Nigeria.”
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.