Google launches first African cloud region in SA
Google Cloud has officially launched a new cloud region in Johannesburg, South Africa, its first in Africa.
"The Google Cloud region in Johannesburg will accelerate the African tech ecosystem, providing organizations with the resources they need to scale, innovate, and compete in the global marketplace. We are excited to partner with organizations across the continent and help them discover the advantages of digital transformation," Niral Patel, director of Google Cloud for Africa, said in a statement on the company website.
Patel promised that, with the new region, businesses of all sizes across the continent now have access to "high-performance, secure and low latency" cloud services.
With the addition of Johannesburg, Google's cloud network now totals 40 cloud regions and 121 zones, which deliver Google Cloud services to over 200 countries and territories worldwide.
However, Johannesburg is Google's only cloud region on the African continent and there are no other planned regions in Africa at this time.
"The Johannesburg region is connected to Google's secure network, comprising a system of high-capacity fiber optic cables under land and sea around the world. This includes the recently completed Equiano subsea cable system that connects Portugal with Togo, Nigeria, Namibia, South Africa, and St. Helena," Patel said.
Patel quoted International Finance Corporation (IFC) statistics that forecast Africa's Internet economy will reach $180 billion by 2025, accounting for 5.2% of the continent's gross domestic product (GDP).
In 2021, Google committed $1 billion over five years to boost Africa’s digital transformation, including investment in infrastructure, training for the growing tech talent pool, and enabling the startup ecosystem.
Google joins other cloud heavyweights in SA
The South African cloud region has been on the cards since October 2022 but follows in the footsteps of global hyperscalers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure which have already invested in major cloud infrastructure and data centers in South Africa.
Microsoft Azure was the first of the global providers to land data centers in South Africa in March 2019, with one in Johannesburg and another in Cape Town.
AWS then launched its Africa Region in Cape Town in April 2020.
Oracle launched its first cloud region in Africa in January 2022, also in Johannesburg, after delays to its original plan to open the cloud region by the end of 2020.
In a recent video interview with Connecting Africa, Google's MD for Africa, Alex Okosi, indicated the South African cloud region was set to go live in 2024 and said it had the potential to create around 50,000 jobs over time.
Wider African reach
Patel said that, beyond infrastructure and services, Google is committed to providing Africa's people and businesses with training on the latest cloud technologies and sustainable business practices.
These include training programs like Cloud OnBoard, Cloud Hero and the Google Hustle Academy, which covers technology topics like generative artificial intelligence (GenAI), machine learning (ML), application and infrastructure modernization, data and analytics, and digital marketing.
The global tech company has also invested in programs for African startups, including the Black Founders Fund Africa and Google for Startups Accelerator Africa, which have supported 106 startups across 17 African countries. Google said these startups have collectively raised over $263 million in funding and created over 2,800 direct jobs.
The first cohort of the AI First Accelerator Program sees 11 startups embarking on a ten-week journey to scale their AI solutions for Africa and globally, leveraging up to $350,000 in Google Cloud credits and gaining access to Google's AI expertise and support.
Patel said Google Cloud would host a launch event for the Johannesburg cloud region later this year to showcase the "transformative potential" it holds for businesses across the continent.
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*Top image source: rawpixel.com on Freepik.
— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa