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AWS makes BEE gains, dangles R365m to SA’s SMEs

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Prabashni Naidoo, director at AWS ZA.
Prabashni Naidoo, director at AWS ZA.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has opened applications for local SMEs to apply for its R365 million equity equivalent investment programme.

This as the company looks to open data centre regions in South Africa this year.

In 2018, AWS announced it will bring its data centres to South Africa, opening an infrastructure region in SA in the first half of 2020. The new AWS Africa (Cape Town) region will consist of three availability zones, the company said.

It will also enable organisations to run workloads in SA and serve end-users across the African continent with lower latency.

Additionally, says AWS, it will enable more organisations across Sub-Saharan Africa to leverage advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, IOT, mobile services, and more to drive innovation.

As SA awaits the launch of the facilities, there is already some excitement in the market. Last year, insurer Old Mutual said it will migrate its digital customer platforms, core insurance applications and product administration systems to the AWS cloud.

Big four bank Standard Bank Group also announced it had chosen AWS as its preferred cloud provider.

Microsoft unveiled data centre regions in South Africa last year, becoming the first global provider to deliver cloud services from data centres on the African continent.

On unveiling its local data centres, the US-based software giant also committed millions through its own equity investment programme.

Global enterprise software giant Oracle also announced plans to launch data centres in SA this year.

Enterprise development

In a statement yesterday, AWS South Africa (AWS ZA) says it has attained broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) level one status.

As part of the B-BBEE level one status, AWS ZA achieved maximum points for enterprise development, supplier development and ownership elements of the scorecard, upon first verification.

AWS ZA’s other initiatives, contributing to its level one status, include funding for small business, the Amazon Web Services equity equivalent investment programme (AWS EEIP), and skills development programmes delivered through AWS Academy and AWS Educate.

“We are thrilled to attain a B-BBEE level one status,” says Prabashni Naidoo, director at AWS ZA. “This is a continuation of our commitment to support the transformation and economic development of South Africa.

“Our enterprise and supplier development programmes will enable small businesses to flourish. As these businesses grow, AWS cloud services will help transform their operations and allow them to compete on a global scale. In addition, our skills development programmes will help grow the next generation of highly skilled South African developers and engineers.”

Achieving B-BBEE level one status, and the launch of the AWS EEIP, is another step in AWS’s continued commitment, growth and long-term investment in South Africa, says AWS.

The company is inviting qualifying 100% black-owned exempted micro enterprises (EMEs) and qualifying small enterprises (QSEs) within the ICT sector to apply to be part of the AWS EEIP.

The AWS EEIP was announced in 2019 and will see over R365 million invested over a seven-year period in the development and growth of black-owned small businesses in South Africa.

According to AWS, this will help entrepreneurs and businesses owners develop and enhance their skills in advanced technologies such as cloud computing, Internet of things, machine learning, mobile technologies, and more.

It says the AWS EEIP will enable entrepreneurs and technical professionals in SA to build businesses that will play a key role in the country’s digital transformation.

Technical training

Successful applicants will undergo an 18- to 24-month enterprise development and incubation programme, during which they will receive technical training and support from AWS ZA, and will result in AWS EEIP members becoming AWS certified developers and solutions architects.

These businesses will also receive business enablement support such as coaching, mentorship, and funding to help take their business to the next stage of growth.

AWS says as these businesses complete their training, and gain AWS competencies, they can become select Amazon partner network members and move up a tier in the Amazon partner network, becoming an advanced partner, to further strengthen their business.

Upon completion of the programme, these businesses will have access to AWS’s ecosystem of millions of active customers, of every size, across virtually every industry.

Eligible EMEs and QSEs can click here for more information and to submit their applications by 10 April.

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