[Column] Simon Ngunjiri: The public cloud market is getting bigger in Africa

Despite the growth of cloud over the past decade, for most organizations, only 20 per cent of workloads have made their way to the public cloud according to an IBM report

Public cloud is the most popular model of cloud computing where computing services and infrastructure are managed by a third-party provider and shared with multiple organizations using the public Internet. It makes computing resources available to anyone for purchase. 

Globally public cloud services market is forecast to grow 6.3 per cent in 2020 to a total $257.9 billion, up from $242.7 billion in 2019, according to Gartner, Inc., Public cloud services serve as the one bright spot in the outlook for IT spending in 2020.

Africa currently accounts for less than 1% of the global public cloud services revenue according to a Xalam report despite accounting for 5% of the world’s GDP and 17% of its population. However, the report notes that its capacity has doubled in the past three years. Despite this, Winston Ritson, the Group Head for Cloud Services at  Liquid Intelligent Technologies says there’s always a but.

‘Africa does lag as one would expect as we are still talking about a Cloud penetration rate of around 15%, but a forecasted public growth rate of between 17 and 20 CAGR’’ he says. 

Public Cloud has its advantages, including almost infinite scalability and an unbeatable breadth of independent service vendor (ISV) offerings. Another key benefit is an extremely flexible pricing structure that helps businesses, especially the small and medium-size, to tightly control their costs by paying for the infrastructure only based on their needs.

The establishment of cloud data centres has positioned a number of companies as public cloud providers offering cloud services on the continent. On Monday, Africa Data Centres officially opened its new 10MW data centre facility in Lagos, Nigeria. The new facility, the company says, will pave the way for Africa Data Centres hyperscale customers to deploy digitisation solutions to West Africa. 

This latest announcement follows hard on the heels of Africa Data Centres recently announced, major data centre expansion plans that will see the company building hyperscale data centres throughout Africa. 

Oracle also announced that its launching a series of new cloud regions using Orange’s infrastructure in Senegal and Ivory Coast. In October,  the company announced that it has chosen Johannesburg as the site of its first African data centre.

The shift to public cloud computing is the dominant trend in the industry and it’s only going to get bigger going forward. Mainstream enterprise and government use – represented as pragmatists and conservatives in the above chart – now accept public cloud computing as a viable choice: capable, secure, and cost-effective. 

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at  Incentro Africa.

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Data centres are a growing investment opportunity in Africa

Last week, Global software giant Oracle announced that it has chosen Johannesburg as the site of its first African data centre. Joburg will be among the 14 locations across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and Latin America that the company says it plans to open cloud regions to support strong customer demand for Oracle Cloud services.

This announcement came at a time when the demand for data centers in Africa continues to rise.  According to Gartner, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) data centre market, which includes cloud services, will see spending reach US$5.4 billion in 2022, driven by Digital Transformation initiatives across the region as well as growth in Internet penetration. In addition, industry leaders. believe that projected investment growth in data centre projects is influenced by a growing demand for higher-performance networks, increased management efficiency and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, as we have highlighted in a previous column,  Africa is suited to jump to the cloud more than its peersCloud adoption—including hybrid and multi-cloud adoption—is expanding fast among both private and public sector organizations of all sizes.

BitTitan, a provider of cloud migrations and managed services automation solutions, has also noted that there is a massive migration to the cloud by organisations in the Middle East and Africa.

“We have seen a growing trend in mergers and divestments as a result of the changing business dynamics brought about by the pandemic. Our data on migration project types in Americas and Europe have shown that this leads to increased activity and the trend is only growing. This will be a regular scenario soon in the Middle East as migrations do not stop after clients have been moved to the cloud,” said Antti Ålander, Channel Manager – EMEA, BitTitan said in an article published by Intelligent CIO.

Last week, US group Vantage Data Centres also announced that it is investing more than 15 billion rand ($1 billion) in its first African campus in Johannesburg.  Vantage’s carrier‐neutral 80 megawatts-capacity facility will include 60,000 square metres of data space across three facilities in Johannesburg once fully developed, making it the largest in Africa, the company said in a statement.

Teraco Data Environments Proprietary Limited, Africa’s vendor-neutral data centre and interconnection services provider, recently also announced the completion of Phase 1 of CT2, its new hyperscale data centre in Brackenfell, Cape Town – the largest data centre in the Western Cape.

These increased investments in data centers in Africa is a clear indication that cloud adoption in the region has reached new heights.  In 2020, IT spending was hit hard by the pandemic and declined by 4.9% in the META region, according to IDC. The crisis caused by the pandemic, though, appears to have accelerated plans for digital transformation and related projects such as migration to cloud technology.

According to Knight Frank, Africa currently boasts just 140,000 sq m of data centre space, the same as Switzerland. However, rapid digitisation and the roll-out of 4G and 5G infrastructure across the continent means this is set to grow by 50% over the next five years.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at  Incentro Africa.

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Businesses in Africa are increasing their cloud spending in 2021

In our previous Africa Cloud Review article, we highlighted how Cloud is driving change and accelerating digital transformation across multiple industries across the continent. 

This comes at a time when cloud spending among businesses continues to grow. In fact, according to data presented by TradingPlatforms.com, global public IT cloud services market revenue for 2020 was at $312.4B – a 34% Increase from 2019.

In 2016, global spending on public IT cloud services was just under $100B. In 2021 that figure has ballooned to a healthy $312.4B after experiencing a 34% increase from 2019’s $233.4B revenue. In the 4 year period from 2016-2020 the data reveals that revenue from spending on cloud services grew at an impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36.31%.

In countries like Kenya, businesses are also increasing their cloud expenditure. The “Africa in the Cloud 2020” study by World Wide Worx conducted among eight African countries released in November last year noted that Kenyan firms are set to increase their expenditure on cloud computing services by 68 per cent in 2021 up from 38 per cent in 2020. 63% of the companies interviewed in the study indicated their top reasons for cloud adoption as driving business efficiency followed by operational flexibility and customer service which averaged at 53 per cent and 45 per cent respectively.

Of the three main types of cloud services, the TradingPlatforms.com data shows that Software as a Service (SaaS) still accounts for the largest share of total revenue with a 63% share. In 2020 SaaS revenue amounted to $197.6B which is a 33% increase from 2019’s $148.5. S From 2016-2020 SaaS revenue grew at a CAGR of 34.1%.

In countries like South Africa, 51% of the public sector segment are already using cloud in production. This is according to a recent survey conducted by ITWeb and AWS on the state of cloud adoption in South Africa.

The future is in the cloud

As Patrick Ndegwa, the Business Sales Lead for SEACOM East Africa, cloud adoption is becoming increasingly important for both innovation and operational continuity.

‘’Businesses can take advantage of cloud-based applications or hosted servers for enhanced mobility, or enable remote teams to connect with each other more effectively through cloud communications. ‘’ Ndegwa says in an article published on Africa Business Communities. 

The best way for businesses to take advantage of cloud is by partnering with a reliable cloud and connectivity provider that can offer high-quality and scalable services to meet their unique business requirements. 

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa.

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Cloud services are transforming Africa’s productive capacity

From banks looking to accelerate the rollout of new applications to startups disrupting entire industries with innovative, cloud-powered models, cloud services are transforming Africa’s productive capacity. They are emerging as one of the most essential pillars of Africa’s digital transformation according to a recent report   “The Rise Of The African Cloud – 2021report.

The report notes that cloud-based office applications are increasingly vital components of the African modern workplace. The rise of the cloud in the African market it says ostensibly goes beyond basic office applications. 

Cloud services have certainly revolutionized the way African enterprises conduct their businesses, offering various benefits such as cost-effective access to computing power, on-demand applications, and services among others. 

In our previous Africa review article, we highlighted how migrating to the cloud is the most effective route to digital transformation for any business. 

The Cloud Over Africa policy paper notes that much of the hype around cloud in Africa is as a result of the adoption of high-end technology and software by big industry players such as financial services, oil, and gas; and of advanced next-generation networks by the telecommunications operators. The emergence of cloud computing in Africa, the policy paper says is viewed as a natural extension of the deployment of advanced IT technologies by high-end users in both the consumer and enterprise services markets. In addition, it says cloud computing offers economies of scale that can dramatically reduce the cost to end-users.

Storing information in the cloud offers a bird’s-eye view of your data. It is easier to implement tracking mechanisms and build customized reports to analyze organization-wide information. This, in turn, enables increased efficiencies, better decision-making, and a competitive edge.

Africa is currently witnessing a revolution in new cloud and data centre capacity, with a growth forecast of 80 percent and 50 percent, but there are constraints that need to be removed.  Today, as Tonny Tugee, Managing Director at SEACOM East and North East Africa notes, businesses around the world are relying increasingly on connectivity for conducting business transactions and payments, running apps and services in cloud environments, marketing, or simply sharing information with each other.  Companies like Microsoft, for example, are said to be spending more than $100 million on a cloud development center that will employ 500 staff in the next five years. 

Last week, carrier-neutral data center infrastructure provider iColo announced the construction of its third data center in Kenya to be located in Nyali, Mombasa. Called MBA2, the new data center is expected to be completed in Q1 of 2022 and is set to provide an estimated capacity of 1.6MW megawatt and 1,200 square meters of IT space.

Bottom line, mass cloud adoption across Africa has the potential to not only improve customer service, business efficiency, operational flexibility, and agility but also save costs.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa.

VOGSY and Incentro partnership to boost productivity and profitability in the services industry in Africa

VOGSY, the quote-to-cash Professional Services Automation solution built for Google Workspace users, and Incentro Africa, the Nairobi-based branch of the full digital service company called Incentro, announced today their new partnership. Through VOGSY’s global Partner Program, Incentro Africa will help its customers across Africa harness VOGSY’s unique Google Workspace integrated platform to run their quote-to-cash operations and enhance productivity and profitability. The partnership will also expand VOGSY’s global reach.

A Google Cloud premier partner, Incentro Africa specializes in enterprise work transformation services enhanced by Google Cloud. Incentro Africa is proactive in always looking for new partnerships and solutions to benefit customers and boost their productivity even further. Many of Incentro’s existing customers were looking for a fully integrated solution at an affordable price and Incentro aims to provide this through its partnership with VOGSY. According to Dennis de Weerd, Incentro Africa’s CEO, supplying VOGSY’s ERP system to Incentro Africa’s customers represents a major advantage in transforming their productivity, team collaboration and efficiency. 

“VOGSY gives our customers the ability to streamline and manage their quote-to-cash processes from all sales, operations and accounting sides with a single tool that integrates with Gmail, Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides, achieving the ultimate real-time collaboration and transparency throughout service delivery,” de Weerd said.

As the only Professional Services Automation platform created for Google Workspace as well as the leading quote-to-cash ERP solution, VOGSY is a singular tool that packs significant value for services firms. Elimination of destructive work silos, intuitive UX, real-time business data including project budgets, margins and financial KPIs as well as built-in scalability and security are some of the main benefits VOGSY’s CEO Mark van Leeuwen aims to bring to Incentro Africa’s professional services customers.

“As professional services firms undertake digital transformations, they require forward-thinking partners and access to tools that provide actionable data and real collaboration whether they’re two feet or continents apart. VOGSY is proud to align with the like-minded professionals at Incentro Africa and work together to ensure the efficiency, profitability and sustainability of services firms in the digital era.”

Plan, track and optimize your clients, deals, projects, resources and revenue all within the comforts of the Google Interface you know and trust. Try for free here.

With over 10 years of proven expertise in technical consultation and related services, Incentro, the only Google Premier Partner in East, West and Central Africa has become the go-to partner for successful business transformation in the continent.

From Enterprise Collaboration, Cloud Migration and Smart application development, we proudly serve over 26 countries in Africa and are growing. Whatever your ambition is, we’ll aim for maximum impact. We dive deep into your organization, challenge your plans, build solutions swiftly and make sure they work.

Please feel free to visit our website or send an email to Customer Success Manager Elizabeth Akinyi – liz@incentro.com.


[Interview] Nick Treurnicht, Customer Engineer for Google Workspace, DigiCloud Africa, South Africa

Nick Treurnicht
is the Customer Engineer for Google Workspace at DigiCloud Africa, Africa’s Google Cloud Brokerage, specialising in Google Cloud products – including Google Cloud Platform, G Suite, Google Maps and Chrome.

Kindly introduce yourself and your role at DigiCloud Africa.

I have been working with Google Workspace since 2013 and have sold it, trained on it, deployed it and migrated it.  I started at a Google Partner in South Africa and assisted in them becoming a Premier Google Partner.  I have in depth knowledge of the entire platform and who it best serves customers in adopting the real cloud.  I then moved to Digicloud Africa as Google’s Distributor as I have a passion not just for South Africa, but the whole of Africa.  This continent is where Google and Digicloud can enable the next billion users.  I assist our ecosystem of Partners with technical expertise, customer engagements and solutions validation.  I assist them with deployments and migrations as well.  A happy customer makes for a happy partner.  And the partners are our customers.

Digicloud Africa is Google’s enablement partner in Africa. Tell us about this.

Digicloud Africa is the sole distributor in Africa for Google products; Google Workspace as well as Google Cloud Platform.  We function as the enablement and onboarding arm of Google, assisting in growing the Google ecosystem in Africa.  We onboard and train and assist with upskilling the partners on behalf of Google.  We offer our customers sales expertise as well as technical assistance so that they may best serve their customers.  We have experts on all the Google products that have worked at other partners and have gained valuable experience over the years that we now share with our partners, showing them how to become a Premier Partner themselves.

What role is DigiCloud Africa playing in growing African businesses, especially when it comes to cloud adoption?

Digicloud Africa employs a variety of Cloud Architects, Machine Learning specialists, Data Engineers and DevOps Engineers, Security Engineers to name a few.  All skilled and experienced in Google Cloud Platform.  Our partners’ customers benefit from our experience and guidance to assist them in their journey into Google Cloud.  We also assist in marketing the skills of our partners and host webinars online alongside our partners for visibility.  With Google Workspace, we show companies how to run their collaboration platform fully in the cloud.  Use your account from any internet connected device and never lose a document or an email ever again.  Ongoing engagements with the customer ensures that we are there every step of the way to assist the customer in making the right IT decision that supports their cloud strategy.

Why are the solutions you’re providing so important for African businesses?

Now is the best time to adopt the Cloud and with Digicloud Africa and Google’s support it’s easier than ever before to make it happen. If you are building an application or starting a company, you don’t need to and often cannot afford to, start by investing in hardware.  It is costly and requires continual maintenance and upgrades.  This stifles innovation.  Africa has an amazing entrepreneurial spirit that we wish to see growing over the next decade.  The Cloud not only helps you scale up when you need the services, but also scale down when it’s not needed during a lockdown as we saw in 2020.  On a continent where finding the right hardware is often difficult and costly, the Cloud offers you access to state of the art technology.

The demand for cloud services in Africa is growing fast, especially during this pandemic? Do you believe it’s time for every business to move to the cloud?

Yes.  Maintain the servers you have while planning your journey into the cloud.  Stop investing in costly short term solutions (server upgrades).  Modernise your application architecture so that you can run it in the most efficient manner in the Cloud.  Don’t just spin up virtual machines in the Cloud and keep running legacy code in the same old way.  Africa has tremendous skills in IT engineering.  At the start of the pandemic and the lockdown in 2020, we saw many companies running legacy systems rush to deploy Google Workspace.  Most of the companies already running Workspace didn’t have a hard time picking up their laptops and working from home.  We even saw an increase in productivity instead of a decrease, as most business owners and managers feared.

Let’s talk about the future. In Africa, cloud remains a key part in shaping how Africa will grow when it comes to technological infrastructure. What does the future look like?

The future is serverless with a hybrid cloud strategy.  Customers in the cloud should be able to move their applications and workloads between clouds seamlessly.  They will be able to work from anywhere in the world from any type of device; Windows, Macbook, Linux or Chromebook.  Google Workspace for Education is also taking off in Africa in a big way where again Chromebooks are playing an important role.  Kids today entering the workforce tomorrow won’t comprehend why they can’t work remotely or switch devices in the middle of the day and continue working.  Users shouldn’t be bound to their desk, where they can only perform their job function from their device.  Brick and mortar shop fronts will be less prevalent as it’s too costly to maintain and staff.  eCommerce and Logistics is going to play an important role and the cloud will enable that to scale globally.

You are among the speakers an upcoming Google Workspace webinar on April 22nd,  why was it so important to have this webinar?

Post lockdown regulations in South Africa have revealed that users want to continue to work from home.  People are much more productive when given flexibility and the right tools.  This webinar will show you in a very practical way how many Workspace customers did not have a hard time with lockdown or working remotely.  You had access to all of your emails AND files and business tools just like you did in the office.

Still, on the webinar, what should participants expect?

Participants can expect to get a great overview of what Google Workspace is capable of.  They will see the product in action as well and learn how easy it is to use.  They might have heard about ways of using Google Workspace and they might have heard about how other companies are using it successfully, but this webinar will give them a forum to ask questions and ask to see certain features in action and debunk myths about Google Workspace.  They will hopefully be inspired to do things differently and see how MS Office isn’t needed for an organisation at all.  No Office, no servers.

With the webinar happening, what opportunities do you see for DigiCloud in Africa?

We see a big opportunity for all the Africa companies still running legacy email servers on prem to modernise their setup.  All the companies wanting to replace MS Office with something more robust and easy to use where Google Workspace is a natural fit.  Many people have a misconception on what Google Workspace has to offer and only a practical demonstration of “A day in the life of a Workspace user” can really show them how easy IT can be.  The opportunity for Digicloud is really to showcase the strength of our Partner (Incentro) in Africa and how they are supporting their customers and helping them digitally transform.\

Any closing remarks?

This document was edited on a Chromebook (not Windows) using Google Docs (not MS Word) in the Chrome browser.  Every word that I typed was seamlessly saved as I typed without having to activate a certain setting.  The document was automatically saved to Google Drive which means it was backed up to our eDiscovery and Compliance platform (Google Vault) which is built into Google Workspace.  We want to show Africa how easily we do things and solve problems and build workflows without needing to host any servers without any downtime, from anywhere, on any device.


Click here to register for Google Workspace webinar on April 22nd