Google Established Its First Cloud Data Center In Africa, As South African Tech Sector Grows


South Africa is still an emerging country, with its economy developing. But in the tech sector, it flourishes.

This is among the reasons why Google is establishing its first cloud data center there. The move marks the first time the U.S. tech giant is setting its cloud footprint in the continent, as it plays catch-up to other top providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure, which made made themselves available there earlier.

The announcement was made at the 2022 Google for Africa event, as an example of how Google is delivering on its $1 billion investment it committed back in 2021 by the company's CEO, Sundar Pichai.

According to Niral Patel, Director of Google Cloud Africa:

"We believe in growing an open and healthy ecosystem of technology solutions to support Africa's digital transformation goals, which leads to more opportunities for businesses. Along with the cloud region, we are expanding our network through the Equiano subsea cable and building dedicated Cloud Interconnect sites in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Lagos and Nairobi. In doing so, we are building full-scale Cloud capability for Africa."

This Google Cloud "region" is meant to help users, developers, businesses and educational institutions across Africa to move more information and tools online, improve access options for customers and in turn.

It allows users to deploy cloud resources from specific geographic locations, and access several services including cloud storage, compute engine, and key management system.

This is possible because by having Google Cloud in Africa, Google essentially makes its cloud computing services closer to its clients in the continent, allowing its customers to choose where to consume the products from. Google said it is also building Dedicated Cloud Interconnect sites, which link users' on-premises networks with Google's grid in Nairobi (Kenya), Lagos (Nigeria), and South Africa (Capetown and Johannesburg).

Together, the project's goal is to provide a full-scale cloud capability to customers and partners in Africa.

To make this happen, Google is tapping to its private subsea cable, Equiano, which connects Africa and Europe.

Just before this, Equiano that has been under development since 2019, has made four landings in Africa - in Togo, Namibia, Nigeria and South Africa.

In all, the South Africa region is joining Google's global network of 35 cloud regions and 106 zones worldwide.

In the end, the project is also meant to create job opportunities, which can in turn improve the economy.

It's predicted that the South African cloud region is expected to contribute to more than $2.1 billion to South Africa's GDP, and support the creation of more than 40,000 jobs by 2030, according to research by AlphaBeta Economics that was commissioned by Google Cloud.

It's worth noting that the 2022 Google for Africa event also featured other announcements spanning different Google initiatives.

For example, earlier this 2022, Google opened its first African product development center in Nairobi, the capital and largest city of Kenya. Then, Google has also expanded its AI development center to Accra, the capital and largest city of Ghana.

At the event, Google also announced the launch of voice typing support for nine more African languages in Gboard, the Google keyboard. The languages include isiNdebele, isiXhosa, Kinyarwanda, Northern Sotho, Swati, Sesotho, Tswana, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.

Google also updated its Translate product to supports an additional 24 new languages, including Lingala, which is spoken by more than 45 million people across Central Africa.

Also, Google has updated its Maps product to include a refreshed Street View in Kenya, South Africa, Senegal and Nigeria with nearly 30,000 kilometers of imagery.

This is followed by Street view service that has been extended to Rwanda.

Google Cloud
Google Cloud is essentially a set of management tools the company provides for computing, data storage, data analytics, machine learning, and more. By bringing it to Africa, Google is making its services closer to its users in the continent.

And as part of its investment, Google also invests $50 million to fund its Africa Investment Fund that makes equity investments in tech startups.

Lastly, Google is also supporting non-profits working to improve lives in Africa with a $40 million cash and in-kind commitment.

Other announcements made at the event include the ongoing support to small businesses through the Hustle Academy program, as well as ongoing programs that aim to help job seekers develop skills and find work.