No signs of slowdown for Africa’s cloud uptake

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 25 Jan 2023

African organisations will increase their commitment to the cloud and digital transformation this year.

This is according to World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck, presenting the preliminary headline findings of the “Cloud in Africa 2023” research study earlier today.

The study, conducted with the support of Dell Technologies, VMware, Intel, F5 and Red Hat, examines the cloud market across eight African countries, including key regions like SA, Nigeria and Kenya.

The study is based on a sample size of over 1 000 employees, across small, medium and large enterprises. The research is conducted every two years.

Goldstuck noted the pandemic may have sparked the cloud adoption boom on the continent. This momentum, however, will continue, as the study revealed that 69% expect to increase their spending on cloud computing in 2023, he stated.

“Strategies will mature and you’ll start seeing more multi-cloud adoption, but more of a balance between cloud and on-premises.”

According to Goldstuck, 61% of organisations increased their spending on cloud services in 2022. Meanwhile, 2.7% decreased spending − these are the companies that invested heavily when the pandemic hit.

South Africa’s cloud computing space has witnessed considerable recent growth, with international public cloud service providers establishing data centres in the country.

Doug Woolley, MD of Dell Technologies, added: “We are in a good space in South Africa. We’re starting to see smaller engagements outside of South Africa…this is the SADC region where customers are looking to set up more private clouds to mimic that operating model.

“I think they see the value and it also starts driving discussions like infrastructure’s code, on-prem discussions, etc. It’s a very exciting passage that we’re entering from an ICT perspective, and we’ll see more and more proliferation of cloud as we also bring in the edge.

“South Africa is at the cusp of driving a lot of that edge technology now…over the next three years, we’ll see a lot of that edge technology being brought into the operating model that provides customers with a very pervasive computing environment.”

Goldstuck concurred that the continent has seen intensified and pervasive cloud adoption in the last few years, dating back from 2015.

However, what is not unanimous or pervasive are mature strategies in the use of cloud, stated the principal researcher.

Looking at the number of cloud providers used by an organisation, the study found that 60% of medium and large enterprises are using only one cloud provider, meaning that fewer than 40% are multi-cloud users.

By comparison, more than 70% of enterprises globally are multi-cloud organisations, Goldstuck noted.

“This (40%) is way behind the global average, which tells us that we are still in an immature cloud adoption environment – it’s still evolving. The cloud for specific applications – backup – is the emphasis of most organisations.

“Once they start going for more complex and strategic implementation of the cloud, as opposed to simple digital transformation, then they’ll start adopting multi-cloud strategies.”

World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck.
World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck.

Despite the anticipated cloud uptake, Goldstuck noted challenges remain, with lack of skills being the single biggest problem.

The study shows 33.3% of the respondents listed lack of skills as the main difficulty in cloud adoption.

“While we are seeing this great lay-off in the tech world globally, there is a shortage of very specific skills and that will probably result in a high level of reskilling taking place.

“Across the African continent, we are not seeing that lay-off because of the fact that there’s still a skills shortage across various areas of IT, particularly cyber security and cloud computing.”

In addition, the respondents listed obstacles such as costs exceeding budgeted forecasts, too much employee training or employees often doing old ways of work, inconvenient to manage, as well as still feeling they are being left vulnerable.