Amazon is planning on opening its first data centres in Afrika. These first data centers for Amazon Web Services (AWS) -  Amazon.com's cloud services platform which offers computing power, database storage, content delivery and other functionality to help businesses scale and grow - will be located in South Africa and will aim to serve organisations, startups, and businesses in Sub-Saharan Afrika.

"Today, I am excited to announce our plans to open a new AWS Region in South Africa! AWS is committed to South Africa's transformation. The AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region is another milestone of our growth and part of our long-term investment in and commitment to the country. It is our first Region in Africa, and we're shooting to have it ready in the first half of 2020," wrote Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon.com.

This comes after the addition of the AWS Africa Region office, which is located in Cape Town.

More data centers

Apart from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) having their own data centers, there has been an increase in independent data center companies across Afrika, and specifically. One notable one, which is vendor neutral, is Teraco.

Teraco had previously announced in December 2017 that through its data centers in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South African companies would be able to locally use AWS Direct Connect to connect directly to AWS. With the launch of Amazon's own data centers in South Africa, this will not be necessary as time goes on.

Benefits of locally hosted data centers

As Amazon also acknowledges, one of the key benefits of having in-country data centers is that organizations will be able to provide lower latency to end users.

Another important benefit which speaks to the issue of data sovereignty , is that South African organizations will be able to store their data in South Africa. Amazon has also assured South African customers that content and data stored on AWS data centers will not be moved out of the country without their consent.

"Those looking to comply with the upcoming Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) will have access to secure infrastructure that meets the most rigorous international compliance standards," reads a statement from Amazon.

The only potential downside of this announcement is that it could potentially eat into the market share of several Afrikan startups that had started over the past few years who offer similar services to what AWS offers. However, with their knowledge of local markets, perhaps the startups can hold their own and perhaps even become partners with Amazon in their respective regions.

"We have a long history in South Africa. AWS has been an active member of the local technology community since 2004. In December of that year, we opened the Amazon Development Center in Cape Town. That's where we built many pioneering networking technologies, our next-generation software for customer support, and the technology behind our compute service, Amazon EC2. In 2015, we expanded our presence in the country, opening an AWS office in Johannesburg. Since then, we have seen an acceleration in AWS adoption. In 2017, we brought the Amazon Global Network to Africa, through AWS Direct Connect. Earlier this year, we launched infrastructure on the African continent by introducing Amazon CloudFront to South Africa, with two new edge locations in Johannesburg and Cape Town," said Vogels.


Cover image credit: Werner Vogels, CTO, Amazon, on the SaaS Monster Stage during day three of RISE 2018 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Hong Kong. Photo by Stephen McCarthy / RISE via Sportsfile. RISE/Flickr