Oracle has announced plans to establish Kenya as a site for its data centers. This will make Kenya Oracle’s second public cloud region in Africa after South Africa. Cloud regions allow users to deploy cloud resources from specific geographic locations or closer to customers, and gives them access to several services including cloud storage, compute engine and key management systems. Oracle will also provide a comprehensive suite for over 100 hyperscale cloud services.
The announcement came when a delegation from Oracle Corporation led by Scott Twaddle, the Senior Vice-President Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Product and Industries, met with top government officials including the president in Nairobi.
“Oracle’s intent to open a public cloud region in Nairobi will be a key component of Kenya’s Bottom up Economic Transformation Agenda initiative, which is focused on digital transformation, private sector development, agricultural transformation, housing development, and healthcare modernization,” said Mr. Eliud Owalo.
During the meeting, the two parties discussed possible areas of collaboration, especially in digital training, cybersecurity, information sharing and Artificial Intelligence.
Data Centers in Africa
Kenya is one of Africa’s primary data center hubs and is considered the gateway to the East African region. The country currently has about 11 data centres. icolo.io (Digital Realty), IXAfrica, PAIX, Teraco Data Environments, and Wingu are some of the key investors in the Kenya data centers.
Also, Huawei Technologies is among the leading vendors in the modular data center space. In 2020, Huawei was involved in developing Konza smart city and data center phase 1 and phase 2. This cost around USD 30 million in investment. Last year, Ecocloud announced plans to construct a 100% geothermal powered Data centre in Naivasha.
Traditionally, African data has been stored away from the continent. However, recent trends indicate a change. Over the past five years, the rise of local data centers has driven a significant increase in cloud-based computing across five major African economies: South Africa (37), Nigeria(14), Kenya (11), Egypt(17), and Morocco (15).
The region has attracted upto $700 million in annual capital investment over the last two years. The expansion of data centers in Africa makes it possible to enforce laws governing data based on its physical location. Secondly, it helps mitigate data lags. Importantly, it will help reduce costs that companies have to pay for cloud services.
A recent case that ended in court saw Twiga foods pay $83,000 per month to Google Cloud Services vendor Incentro Africa. Konga founder has also revealed the company was paying USD 150,000 to AWS for cloud services. Companies pay these high fees as the bigger cloud service providers offer higher reliability, uptime and data security.
Additionally, more data centres in Kenya and rest of Africa has the potential to prevent the region from lagging further behind in the pursuit of harnessing artificial intelligence.
Oracle and other American Tech Giants
American tech companies providing cloud solutions seem to be awakening to Africa’s cloud market. Google announced it will set up it’s first African Cloud region in 2022, and this became operational this month. The facility is in south Africa.
While Microsoft is yet to set up a data centre in Kenya, it signed an MoU with the Kenyan government last year. Hence, Microsoft Azure will support the government’s digitalisation plans in the country. In addition, a recent agreement between the company and Vodafone will see M-pesa migrate to Azure as it’s new host.
Last year Amazon opened a development hub in Nairobi coming a year after it had launched an AWS Local Zone in Kenya.