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Africa’s development is in the cloud

27/10/2011

From a piece written in The New Age: click here

 

There is a lot of talk about Africa being the next big thing. The next big place to do business; the next place where enthusiasm far outweighs the current pessimism that filters through Europe’s people and the markets.

It was a view shared by many speakers at the two-day Tech4Africa conference at TheForum in Bryanston, Johannesburg, which opened on Thursday.

Delegates, innovators and technologists alike listened to the greats of innovation such as Herman Chinery-Hesse, the man many consider to be the Bill Gates of Africa, who said: “The technological wave of and innovative wave of Africa is here and it is now.”

Chinery-Hesse is a renowed Ghanian technology entrepreneur who co-founded the multi-million dollar software company SOFTtribe.

As a Pan-Africanist, Chinery-Hesse says: “African unity isn’t just a philosophy, it unites business and trans-Africa business is where it’s at, it’s the holy Grail”.

“Only an African can solve African problems. Only an African knows how things work here.”

And Chinery-Hesse didn’t just meant technologically, he meant the ways of doing things, the way of doing business. But one growing aspect of doing business in Africa that is technologically based is the growing use of the cloud. Something sometimes hard to define, the cloud is essentially a remote base of servers which you outsource your data needs.

Companies are using them for computing needs, data storage, content delivery and messaging but it is their elastic capacity and the pay-as-you-go structure that are making them so increasingly attractive to startup companies can avoid high technology costs by using them.

Simone Brunozzi, a technological evangelist for Amazon and more specifically cloud computing believes that Africa is, “on the verge of something just about to happen” and cloud computing is making a lot of that possible.

“Cloud computing matters to Africa because it allows startups or companies with little budget to be on par with international companies and access the same power that they have.”

But really, adds Chinery-Hesse, the reason cloud computing matters to Africa and the reason it has made his gamut of businesses successful is that is avoids common power outages and overcomes limits to bandwidth.

South Africans are all too aware of these limitations and considering that South Africa, along with maybe Kenya, are the only countries on the continent that can boast relatively decent connections, the increasing use of cloud computing is set to kick start some real innovation on the continent.

Cloud computing provides mobility and allows entrepreneurs that wouldn’t normally have access to such data solutions tto focus on the core part of their business, and that is doing business.

With the increasingly availability of these tools, it is the view of both these speakers that Africa is on the verge of something just about to happen. In fact, given the enthusiasm of the attendees of the Tech4Africa conference it seems the cream of crop of African talent has shown up and the atmosphere is abuzz with fruitful talk.

Tech4Africa is continues on Friday as well, when attendees can hear Vincent Maher, co-founder of Motribe; and Josh Spear, one of the youngest and most respected digital marketing strategists in the world.

 

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