Amazon Web Services (AWS) have announced that it will open an infrastructure region in South Africa in the first half of 2020.
The new AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region will consist of three Availability Zones. Currently, AWS provides 55 Availability Zones across 19 infrastructure regions worldwide, with another 12 Availability Zones across four AWS Regions in Bahrain, Hong Kong SAR, Sweden, and a second GovCloud Region in the U.S. expected to come online in the coming months.
“Having built the original version of Amazon EC2 in our Cape Town development centre 14 years ago, and with thousands of African companies using AWS for years, we’ve been able to witness first-hand the technical talent and potential in Africa,” said Andy Jassy, CEO, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “Technology has the opportunity to transform lives and economies across Africa and we’re excited about AWS and the Cloud being a meaningful part of that transformation.”
The new region is the latest in a series of AWS investments in South Africa. In 2004, Amazon opened a development centre in Cape Town that focuses on building pioneering networking technologies, next generation software for customer support, and the technology behind Amazon EC2. AWS has also built a number of local teams including account managers, customer services representatives, partner managers, solutions architects, and more to help customers of all sizes as they move to the cloud. In 2015, AWS opened an office in Johannesburg, and in 2017 brought the Amazon Global Network to Africa through AWS Direct Connect. In May of 2018, AWS continued its investment in South Africa, launching infrastructure points of presence in Cape Town and Johannesburg, bringing Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Route 53, AWS Shield, and AWS WAF to the continent and adding to the 138 points of presence AWS has around the world.
The addition of the AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region will enable organisations to provide lower latency to end users across Sub-Saharan Africa and will enable more African organisations to leverage advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things (IoT), mobile services, and more to drive innovation. Local AWS customers will also be able to store their data in South Africa with the assurance that their content will not move without consent, while 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.
As well as supporting existing customers, AWS is also investing in the future of the South African technology community, taking part in a number of philanthropic and charity activities. Amazon supports organisations such as AfricaTeenGeeks, an NGO that teaches children to code, Code4CT, a charity set up to inspire and empower young girls by equipping them with technical skills, DjangoGirls, which introduces women to coding, and GirlCode, which supports the empowerment of women through technology. Amazon engineers work with these and other charities to provide coaching, mentoring, and AWS credits. Amazon also supports Africa-focused non-profit organisation World Reader by donating cloud technology and Kindle devices, filled with e-books, to tackle illiteracy in Sub-Saharan Africa. As a result of the support from Amazon, World Reader has deployed over 27,000 Kindles to 396 schools and 109 libraries across 16 African countries.
In the education space, AWS supports the Explore Data Science Academy to educate students on data analytics skills in order to produce the next generation of data scientists in Africa. AWS is also working with education institutions in South Africa, such as the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University, to help train the next generation of cloud professionals through AWS Educate. Another program for higher education institutes is AWS Academy, which provides AWS-authorised courses for students to acquire in-demand cloud computing skills. The program has already attracted the country’s major academic institutions, including the University of Cape Town, University of Johannesburg, and Durban University of Technology.
To help grow the next generation of African businesses, AWS works with the venture capital community as well as accelerators and incubators in South Africa to provide resources to startups through programs such as AWS Activate. In Cape Town, AWS works with organisations such as 4Di Capital, AngelHub Ventures, Crossfin, Knife Capital, LaunchLab, MTN Solution Space, Mzansi Commons, and Silicon Cape as well as co-working hubs, such as Workshop17, to provide coaching and mentor-ship as well as technical support and resources to help African startups launch their businesses and go global.