/ 13 October 2022

Google Cloud coming to South Africa, an African first

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Google will be establishing its first cloud region on the African continent, right here in South Africa. (Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Google will be establishing its first cloud region on the African continent, right here in South Africa. Google Cloud will follow other major cloud storage companies that have opened shop here, including Microsoft Azure and Amazon’s AWS. 

South Africa will join Google Cloud’s global network of 35 cloud regions and 106 zones. Its entry to South Africa comes after chief executive Sundar Pichai made a commitment to invest $1-billion in Africa at last year’s inaugural Google for Africa event.

The company says its new cloud region will help users, developers, businesses and educational institutions across Africa to move more information and tools online, improve access options for customers and create jobs.

Research conducted by AlphaBeta Economics, commissioned by Google Cloud, says the new cloud region will contribute more than $2.1-billion to South Africa’s GDP and will help create more than 40 000 jobs by 2030.

“The new region will allow for localisation of applications and services, making it easier and faster for businesses to use our compute, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics tools to make smarter decisions,” Google Cloud Africa director Niran Patel said.

“Along with the cloud region, we are expanding our network through the Equiano subsea cable and building dedicated cloud interconnect sites in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lagos and Nairobi. In doing so, we are building full-scale cloud capability for Africa.”

Google is giving customers and partners a choice about where they’d like to store their data and where they’d like to consume cloud services, especially in the context of data sovereignty, he added. “This allows customers to then store the data in the country should they choose to do so … I guess, for me, the most important element is that it gives customers the element of choice.”

Philly Mapulane, deputy minister of communications and digital technologies said South Africa’s National Development Plan called for stimulating growth in the information, communication and technology sector, and innovation, by driving public and private ICT investment, especially in network upgrades and expansion. 

“Google’s recent efforts in this regard have been particularly encouraging. The Equiano cable landed in Cape Town recently and the improved speed and reduced internet costs that this can deliver have the potential to drive much fuller internet participation for many more South Africans,” Mapulane said.

“Since the Covid-19 pandemic, we have witnessed fibre-to-the-home service adoption, resulting in significant growth in [fibre-to-the-home] subscription, confirmed to have reached 3.2-million households.”

Google Africa managing director Nitin Gajria said the company had been collaborating with governments, policymakers, NGOs, telcos, business leaders, creators and the media to help accelerate Africa’s digital transformation. “It’s the talent and drive of the individuals in the countries and communities of Africa that will power Africa’s economic growth.”

The company said Google Cloud had already been working with customers across the continent to help solve business-critical challenges and get people online so they could access the benefits of digital technology. 

In SA, particularly, it has been working with online retail giant Takealot to deliver seamless shopping experiences to its 3-million customers, who Patel says make nearly half the country’s online retail purchases.

It adds that Takealot built its e-commerce platform on Google Cloud, which has enabled the business to avoid system crashes during high-traffic periods, such as Black Friday.  

“We’ve seen that, when businesses don’t have to focus on managing infrastructure, they are freed up to do great things,” said Patel.