Amazon Web Services plans more data centres in Africa

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Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy.
Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Andy Jassy expects the company to launch more infrastructure regions in Africa after the planned Cape Town region facility goes live in 2020.

He made the comment at a press briefing on Tuesday at the company's annual re:Invent conference, in Las Vegas.

In October, AWS announced it would bring its data centres to SA, opening an infrastructure region in SA in the first half of 2020.

Each AWS region has multiple 'availability zones' and data centres, and the new AWS Africa (Cape Town) region will consist of three of these zones. AWS currently provides 57 availability zones across 19 infrastructure regions worldwide.

Jassy admitted Africa and the Middle East have in the past been largely ignored and have not had the technology needed to really spring-board their economies through new businesses, capabilities and enterprises "to be able to evolve and compete on the world stage".

"We see a real opportunity to help companies and builders and countries in Africa make that leapfrog and have the same access to technology in a cost-effective way. But also all of the capabilities that allow them to build all kinds of new businesses, both businesses for the economy, as well as services that governments can use to service citizens better," he said of the expansion in the region.

"So that is very much the motivation for us in building regions in Africa and the Middle East. I think that over time, we will continue to launch more regions there to enable builders to build more."

The company said last month that the addition of the Cape Town region will enable organisations to provide lower latency to end-users across Sub-Saharan Africa. It will allow more African organisations to leverage advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of things, mobile services, and more to drive innovation.

Another key factor will be that local AWS customers will be able to store their data in SA with the assurance that their content will not move without consent.

Jassy said AWS has a "lot of passion for the African geography".

"We have a lot of love for the team that we have built in Cape Town. Most people probably don't know this but the initial EC2 [Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud] team was 12 people in Cape Town that built EC2 before we launched it in 2006. And we have a pretty big team there, not just in product development but also in support and customer services, so we have had a presence there for a long time," he said.

Amazon has had a development centre in Cape Town since 2004, which focused on building pioneering networking technologies, next-generation software for customer support, and the technology behind Amazon EC2.

In 2015, AWS opened an office in Johannesburg, and in 2017, brought the Amazon Global Network to Africa through AWS Direct Connect. In May 2018, AWS continued its investment in SA, launching infrastructure points-of-presence in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Jassy said in Las Vegas that he believed enabling African developers to build businesses that leverage technology will help African nations to have "the type of prosperity and peace that they have desired to have for a long time".

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