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Microsoft launches its first data centres in Africa

07 Mar 2019

Microsoft has announced that its new data centres in Africa are officially open.

The tech giant will be delivering Azure from its new cloud regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa. In doing so, Microsoft becomes the first global provider to deliver cloud services from data centres on the continent.

“Today is a milestone moment in bringing the global cloud closer to home for African citizens and businesses. Enterprises across Africa can now take full advantage of the many benefits of Microsoft Azure, using cloud services to maintain security and meet compliance standards,” says Microsoft North, West, East, Central Africa, Levant & Pakistan general manager Ibrahim Youssry.

Microsoft Azure Networking corporate vice president Yousef Khalidi says this will help companies securely and reliably move their businesses to the cloud while meeting compliance needs.

“Microsoft Azure is now available from our new cloud regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa will create greater economic opportunity for organisations in Africa, accelerate new global investment, and improve access to cloud and internet services,” says Khalidi.

According to the Cloud Africa 2018 report, cloud use among medium to large organisations in Africa has more than doubled between 2013 and 2018, with more than 90 percent of surveyed companies in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria having plans to increase their spending on cloud computing in the next year.

However, a secure offering remains important in maintaining this momentum, as many African CEOs expressed concerns about cyber threats.

“Microsoft has deep expertise in protecting data and empowering customers around the globe to meet extensive security and privacy requirements, including offering the broadest set of compliance certifications and attestations in the industry,” says Khalidi.

“We look forward to supporting more African enterprises in their cloud journeys and offering a trusted path to digital transformation.”

Azure is the first of Microsoft’s cloud services to be delivered from the new facilities, with Office 365 anticipated to be available by the third quarter of this year, while Dynamics 365 is due in the fourth quarter.

The launch of the two new data centres is just the latest in a line of investments Microsoft has made into the continent. The company maintains a network of more than 10,000 local partners and a nearly 30-year history of operating on the continent.

In 2013, Microsoft launched its 4Afrika Initiative, working with governments, partners, startups and youth to develop more affordable access to the internet, 21st-century skills, and locally relevant technology. Recently, this included a partnership with FirstBank Nigeria to expand cloud services and digital educational platforms to SME customers.

In Kenya, Microsoft is expanding FarmBeats, an end-to-end approach to help farmers benefit from technology. FarmBeats strives to enable data-driven farming, bringing together traditional knowledge, intuition and data to help increase farm productivity and yields.

On the skills development front, Microsoft has established a network of over 800 Microsoft Imagine Academies, offering students of various age groups direct training in the technology field. Together with the African Development Bank, Microsoft is also rolling out `Coding for Employment` to create 25 million jobs and reach 50 million youth and women across Africa.

“We’re working with partners to accelerate cloud readiness and adoption in Africa, ensuring enterprises can deliver services to market faster, businesses can make more data-driven decisions, and governments can better connect with citizens,” says Youssry.

“As we connect more businesses to Azure, we’re seeing heightened innovation in the cloud and start-ups expanding their services to new markets. The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa will now connect businesses with even more opportunity and customers across the globe.”

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