The topic of cloud computing has been doing the rounds for quite some time now, and businesses have been flooded with information promoting and supporting the use of cloud technology. With so much information out there about ‘the cloud’, it may take some time to fully wrap our heads around the implications of connecting to the cloud.
What does cloud technology mean for Kenya and Africa, and how can we leverage these services to adapt and thrive in a digital world?
The potential benefits of mass cloud adoption across Africa
The benefits offered by cloud computing will differ within each individual business based on their unique needs. However, the underlying advantages boil down to the same three points: strategic value, flexibility and efficiency.
Having access to cloud computing means that businesses can access all of their resources from any Internet-enabled device, no matter where they are. The result of this is that the ability to collaborate with colleagues is no longer limited to one location, providing a competitive advantage over businesses that use fixed, onsite IT infrastructure.
Another advantage of having instant access to business-related files and information from any location or device is that companies will experience less downtime as a result of hardware failures and device theft. Your data will always be safe and secure with an offsite backup.
In addition to instant access, switching to the cloud means cost savings, as businesses no longer need to invest in physical infrastructure that needs to be continuously updated. This ties in with the flexibility of cloud solutions. You can scale your solution to fit the size and needs of your business – as a business grows, you can add users and services, and when needs decrease, you can downscale. This can have a significant effect on managing cash flow.
A good cloud service provider should give you the freedom to choose the services that suit your business. Your provider should also manage your application and install the latest updates behind the scenes. This means that you can continue operating without having to worry about keeping up with technological developments in the cloud. This will also result in savings on capital costs and increases business efficiency.
With the significant advantages to productivity and flexibility that come with the adoption of cloud technology, enabling cloud services in Africa should be a priority for government and business.
Barriers to cloud uptake in Kenya
Adoption of cloud technology has accelerated in recent years, driven by better broadband connectivity and more affordable data. However, many private businesses and public institutions in East Africa are yet to fully embrace these services due to insufficient knowledge, public perception, confusing regulations, and cost and security concerns – to name a few challenges.
Another barrier to the uptake of cloud technology is inadequate access to a reliable, high-speed Internet connection. Without one, cloud technology is redundant. We have seen an increase in Internet usage in Kenya, with 39.3 million Internet subscriptions recorded in 2019/2020, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya.
Awareness has to be created around what technology is available in Kenya and how people can go about harnessing it. This means that the risks associated with an Internet-driven world need to be addressed as well.
There has already been an increase in the uptake of cloud technology in Kenya over the last few years, with 35.6 per cent of public institutions and 22.9 per cent of private businesses using this technology in 2017/2018, according to the Communications Authority of Kenya. Given the time since these figures were released – as well as recent global events – we anticipate seeing a significant increase in the number of cloud computing users and in-demand for cloud technology in Kenya.
Enabling the cloud for a future-forward Kenya
If Kenya is to take advantage of the opportunities that the cloud can provide, businesses and government need to work together to create a more enabling, conducive cloud environment. Nurturing the development of a stable, reliable communications infrastructure network in Kenya is key to ensuring the continuous uptake of cloud technology. By providing infrastructure that is able to withstand the demands of an Internet-driven world, the Kenyan economy will be able to grow and develop into a thriving business hub.
By Francis Wainaina, Senior Product Manager at SEACOM East Africa