African internet users will soon be able to access the cloud faster than ever

Hacking it.
Hacking it.
Image: REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
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One reason why internet connections in Africa often appear slow is because much of the content being requested is hosted on servers outside the continent.

That’s starting to change. Microsoft is the latest company that wants to cut so-called latency gaps for Africans. The software giant has announced it will deliver its cloud service to users in Africa from data-centers in Johannesburg and Cape Town beginning next year.

The move probably will result in a better experience for cloud users in Africa, but it also promises a boost for organizations and startups. Rather than set up expensively maintained IT departments, for example, businesses could plug into less costly cloud services and software, accessible from anywhere.

Companies and individuals on the continent can already access cloud services delivered from outside Africa, but local data-centers will ultimately result in faster delivery and more ease of access. Over time, faster and easier access could also result in a spike in the rate of adoption of cloud services on the continent.

In January, ShowMax, the video-on-demand (VOD) service owned by South Africa-based Naspers, Africa’s largest media company, boosted its local capacity by hosting caching servers in Nairobi. Similarly, last October, to improve its offering to users on the continent, Netflix deployed a server—expected to hold Netflix’s entire content library—in Nigeria in partnership with a local internet service provider.