The next frontier of growth in Africa in the next decade
By Brian Yatich
With the growth of information technology, industries and government institutions are staking their future on serving customers and businesses through cloud-based technology which they foresee will help transform their business.
However gadgets like computers and smartphones are a risky option in this age of communication as they are prone to theft and in most cases data loss.
This poses a big threat to both personal and business records, so the question surfaces, have you backed up your data?
Many entrepreneurs and business institutions suffer loss of data either when a device fails, becomes infected with a virus or when hackers damage the systems.
This is where Cloud Computing comes in. Kenyan Cloud Computing startup Angani Limited, which recently launched its services, is targeting companies and small to medium size enterprises to curb this threat.
Angani offers cloud computing services across East African and is focused on small and medium enterprises (SME), the financial markets and media.
The service has attracted SMEs across the region, with the majority adopting it as they drive revenues to service providers leading to their companies’ growth.
So how does cloud computing work?
Riyaz Bachani, the chief organising officer and founder of Angani, shares his insight into how cloud computing is driving business in the region.
“Cloud computing is basically application and software solutions hosted outside the company which helps organisations cut costs of obtaining physical hardware. The technology realms of cloud computing, mobility, Big Data, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are converging to create exceptional opportunities for business operators to better manage their assets and data anywhere in the world” he says.
Angani’s main stake is selling and leasing virtual servers which has seen the company transform due to an increase in range of services which are in demand.
The company offers SMEs, media industries and other institutions one such product, Virtual Office, which is geared towards boosting small scale businesses as it combines products like email and web hosting, backup services and virtual Play Station portable (PSPs).
According to Bachani, companies don’t have to invest in physical infrastructure which tends to be a costly. Instead of investing in a physical server, they can lease cloud operators and which can be accessed anywhere in the world provided they have internet connectivity.
“Traditionally you’d buy a server from a shop, bring and mount it in your office and install applications, software and data. So what we’ve done is to buy lots of servers and we put them in a secure data centre so that any user who would want to use the server data resource buy our servers or lease for a month from our website,” he says.
He says the idea behind Angani is to provide infrastructure in Africa that can be used for the same services, to run local applications (apps), making apps load faster, enable users to save bandwidth, unlike foreign fibre which tends to be expensive.
He says by adopting cloud computing, a company is in a better position to manage and analyse data.
“Companies don’t have to invest in IT capital infrastructure; cloud computing enhances business efficiency, it improves communication and in addition provides a convincing opportunity for an organisation to outsource their ICT, with tailor-made IT solutions cutting costs of acquiring expert plus the equipment. In that respect, SMEs are going to be in a better position to compete with the big players,” he adds.
Bachani says cloud companies overseas are not looking at Africa because the continent has only 3 per cent of the world’s internet but Angani thinks differently.
“Unlike Google and Amazon, our products cut across the market. We don’t charge for local bandwidth, that way we encourage more local content. We have had a positive response in the uptake of the product and lots of companies are taking up the service. We estimate 20,000 to 70,000 users are utilising our servers, he says.
“Africans by and large should encourage a lot of data transfer among themselves. We give them opportunities to use the local infrastructure that Angani has developed. The infrastructure sits locally so there is low latency on the network and high speed connectivity.”
Bachani sees a big future in cloud computing as a result of mobile transformation and he says it is the next frontier of growth in Africa in the next decade.