Cloud adoption by South African small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) could generate a R185.9-billion boost for the economy over the next six years.
This is according to a new study by Access Partnership commissioned by Amazon Web Services (AWS). It estimates that by 2030, SMMEs that adopt cloud services could help create 142 300 jobs, cut 4.74 million metric tonnes of carbon emissions, and slash cyber incidents by 34%.
The rationale is that cloud would enable these companies to cut IT costs, be more productive, and expand operations, and in so doing, help create the capacity to support additional jobs in the economy.
These jobs would be created not just by the SMMEs and startups that adopt cloud, but also by businesses along their supply chains, the report says.
Busisiwe Khaba, AWS's regional head of public policy for Africa, the Middle East, and Turkey, explains: “The research approach used an economy-wide employment coefficient (number of jobs supported per ZAR1 million of GDP) ... The 142 300 figure refers to the expected economy-wide jobs that will be supported in the year 2030 based on the cloud adoption projections in South Africa.”
The study breaks down the estimated R185.9bn cumulative value as follows: R48bn in IT cost savings; R111bn in productivity gains; and R26 billion in revenue boosts.
As to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, Khaba cites the company’s own research and that of global financial data and market analysis firm 451 Research.
“Being highly utilised as a shared service, cloud servers can achieve up to an 80% reduction in carbon footprint compared to typical on-premises servers,” she says.
AWS reports a 34% reduction in security incidents for cloud customers. Based on this statistic, the Access Partnership study estimates that South African SMMEs could potentially prevent over 88 800 security incidents between 2023 and 2030 by migrating to the cloud.
Khaba says the research was conservative in its assumptions related to cloud adoption growth, so this figure could be considered a conservative estimate of cloud’s positive impact on SMMEs’ cyber security.
The AWS executive adds that cloud service providers make significant investments to ensure the availability, security, and compliance of their services to reduce risk exposure for users. “Cloud service provider ecosystems also have significant training and certification options, including cyber security and data protection modules, to facilitate the uptake of cloud by new users.”
AWS has also underlined the importance of government collaboration with industry to create supportive policies for SMMEs and startups – to improve access to skills, minimise red tape, streamline processes, and enforce policies.