Kageni Wilson (@the_kageni_mind) is an African technologist, innovator & entrepreneur. He is the Founder & CEO of ionacloud inc., a Personal Cloud Service provider that amalgamates cloud-based content and services from around the world. In an exclusive guest post for HumanIPO, Kageni details the reasons why he believes cloud technology is the way forward for Africa.
If you’re wondering what the future for cloud technology in Africa looks like, the answer is bright. Very bright. There are many reasons why I believe Cloud as a technology will prosper in Africa –not just ideally, but also practically. Here are a few of them:
- Rising Exposure: The African market has for the past few years been getting a lot of exposure to new and increasingly advanced internet technologies. The increased familiarity with tech is making people more accustomed to and thus more receptive to advanced solutions like cloud.
- Smart Device Adoption: With a growing middle class we find that there are an increasing number of users who own one or more smart devices, or at least use them on a daily basis. These devices are Web-enabled and optimised for easy use of Web-based services such as cloud.
- Data Storage: These devices contain lots of information. The amount of content owned and stored by today’s average smart device user is eight times that of an average user just ten years ago. They need somewhere to keep all this data and, even better, somewhere they can access it remotely whenever they need to.
- Data Safety: Users hate losing their files when devices crash, are damaged or lost. Nine out of ten smart device users in Africa say the have lost data on devices in the past. Eight out of these nine say it was crucial information. Only one out of these eight had their files backed up for safe-keeping. This creates the demand for safe storage and backup solutions. Word is spreading about the value of device backups. As people discover the availability of cheap backup solutions in the cloud their popularity is growing.
- Improving Internet quality: African Internet infrastructure still has a very long way to go before African web users are on a par with their counterparts in developed countries, but with the arrival of the submarine cables the amount of bandwidth ISPs are offering has improved drastically.
- Falling cost of internet connection: With the arrival of the marine cables the supply of bandwidth available has gone up and this is bringing the cost of Internet connection down, making it affordable to more people and making it cheaper for users who can already afford it to consume even more Internet. This significantly increases the market for cloud solutions.
- Poor “large screen” device to population ratio: There are a number of things that users anywhere in the world hate doing on small screens, such as watching videos and movies, and it is no different in Africa. For these needs users prefer devices with larger screens such as tablets, laptops and desktops. However, as mobile adoption numbers skyrocket in Africa, larger screen devices are still extremely rare, especially in non-urban areas. Desktop devices stats are still dismal even in places where desktops are specifically required. This – believe it or not – is actually a good thing for cloud and here’s why. A rural institution like a school with limited devices but many users cannot handle the amount of content generated by these users without continuously spending on increasing memory capabilities or being forced to delete even fairly recent data to create space. To solve this problem, an elegant solution is required. Virtual devices unattached to hardware. Enter cloud.
- E-learning’s rising popularity: We are currently witnessing the rise of e-learning as a favoured education solution in Africa and this (as demonstrated above) creates big demand for cloud services to properly facilitate it by managing such things as curriculum synchronisation and monitoring, remote access to educational resources and collaboration between distant institutions.
- Media Content Demand: The amazing demand for multimedia content (music, video & e-books) in Africa is rising, while more and more convenient storage solutions for all of it are becoming cheaper and more available on the cloud. User adoption in this very low risk case is proving to be almost inevitable after a while.
- BYOD: The emergence of the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend in the corporate world is spreading to companies in Africa with some CIOs planning adoption from as soon as early 2013. This is a trend that obviously requires multiple proper cloud and mobility solutions to manage the experience effectively.
- Business Intelligence: The rise of business intelligence (BI) as a crucial business tool means that companies are now collecting more information, as a result of which they are requiring more storage. For efficiency they require it as much of the process done in the field as fast as possible which then requires mobility (remote access) with lots of processing power attached – not just the office devices but the devices in the field. Enter enterprise cloud.
- Massive Potential for Future Growth: Africa has 1.1 Billion people. The adoption of mobile devices is cresting (penetration is at 78 percent as of 2012) and the adoption of smart devices is on the rise as their cost plummets to affordable rates. The size of this market cannot be ignored and it has managed to catch the attention of even the largest names in tech. Microsoft, Google, IBM and many others are already on the ground (and have been for quite a while) trying to grab as much market share as possible with many others on the way. Apple recently announced plans to increase its device market share in Africa by offering its costly devices on hire purchase to make them more affordable. Their steep device cost is considered the main hindrance to Apple’s prosperity in the African space.
With the tech space in Africa evolving faster than almost anywhere else in the world and disruptive technologies being established every day, the future for any tech that is in as much demand as cloud continues to be seems very bright and everyone is watching keenly. Some of the cloud solutions currently being bred and tested in Africa will probably end up being extremely successful on an international scale.