Cloud: the most effective route to public sector transformation

By Tracy Burrows for AWS

Johannesburg, 06 May 2021
Read time 3min 50sec

As digitally-driven transformation, efficiency and cost control become top priorities for the South African public sector, cloud computing presents a compelling business case across the board.

This is according to Clive Charlton, the Solutions Architecture lead for Africa, who was speaking ahead of a webinar series for the public sector in South Africa. “We are seeing strong adoption of AWS services across both public and private sector in South Africa, as organisations discover the agility, efficiencies and cost controls our cloud services enable.”

Charlton notes that a recent study conducted by ITWeb and AWS on the state of cloud adoption in South Africa found that 51% of the public sector segment indicated they are already using cloud in production. However, integration with existing systems is the top factor that hinders public sector organisations from meeting their key objectives (cited by 51% of respondents) as is the lack of skills, followed by cost.

To assist the public sector in overcoming these hindrances, AWS addresses integration concerns through AWS Outposts – a fully managed service, which enables customers to run AWS compute and storage on-premises with the same programming model, the same APIs, the same control plane, and the same features as the AWS Cloud.

Skills concerns are addressed through the AWS Educate and AWS Academy to accelerate cloud-related learning in universities. AWS has also teamed up with Explore Data Science Academy to lead skills development through investing in education, training, and certification programmes for young South African data scientists, and to upskill future data scientists with the skills of the future. Through the AWS and Explore Data Sciences initiative, students complete an intensive one-year training course that provides a fundamental understanding of software development, data analytics, data science and cloud computing technologies, giving students the competitive edge. Students at the Explore Digital Academy, over 90% of whom are BBBEE candidates, have benefited through job placement and accolades: 82% of the first 190 students were placed in jobs despite the impact of COVID, with R350 million in salaries to be paid over the next five years. In addition, the first student cohort has produced four Hackathon winners to date. Says one former student, Takealot data performance analyst Vuyo Mpondo: “Before joining Explore Data Science Academy, I had zero exposure. My new skills helped me in terms of career opportunities. I got two jobs within the space of a year.”

In April 2020, AWS launched its first AWS Region in Africa, comprising three Availability Zones in South Africa. This AWS Region enables businesses of all sizes and government organizations, to set up remote working platforms, build cloud applications and store their data locally, while reaching end users across Africa with even lower latency. AWS infrastructure regions meet the highest levels of security, compliance, and data protection.

AWS also addresses local concerns around data sovereignty, Charlton notes: “With the new region, customers with data residency requirements, and those looking to comply with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), can now store their content in South Africa with the assurance that they retain complete ownership of their data and it will not move unless they choose to move it.”

In addition, AWS supports cost-effective innovation and service delivery: “A good example of the use of AWS to provide speed of delivery and scalability while keeping costs down is GovChat, South Africa’s largest citizen engagement platform. AWS supported GovChat with AWS credits to help them build their COVID-19 solutions. AWS credits help cover costs that are associated with eligible AWS services. GovChat built its chatbot using AWS Lambda, a serverless compute service and Amazon Lex for voice and text conversational interfaces. Additionally, GovChat leveraged the AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region - ensuring that the sensitive data of citizens stayed inside South Africa,” Charlton says.

As part of a new series of events focused on Digital Transformation in Government, AWS will host an executive webinar on Cloud Technologies as an enabler for Digital Transformation on Thursday 20 May. For more information and to register for this event, go to.

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