Microsoft Opens First Cloud Data Center in Africa

CAPE TOWN & JOHANESSBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — After missing an initial goal of a December 2018 opening, Microsoft has finally launched its pair of Azure cloud data centres in South Africa. One data center is in Cape Town, while the other facility is located in Johannesburg.

“The enterprise-grade data centre regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg … will power cloud, artificial intelligence and edge computing innovations across the continent,” said Lillian Barnard, Managing Director at Microsoft South Africa.

“The availability of Microsoft’s cloud services delivered from Africa will mean local companies can securely and reliably move their businesses to the cloud while meeting compliance requirements,” added Yousef Khalidi, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice-President of Azure Networking. “The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa will increase economic opportunity for organizations in Africa, as well as connect businesses across the globe through improved access to cloud and internet services.”

This announcement marks many important milestones for both Microsoft and the broader data center industry. After Microsoft publicized its plans to break ground in South Africa, its rivals lined up to do the same — Amazon Web Services and Huawei both rushed to sign deals. Some expected that they would beat Microsoft to the punch in commencing operations first, but Microsoft has kept its pace up in getting its facility online.

Microsoft now boasts 54 cloud regions around the world, a figure Microsoft claims is the most of the field. Azure is the first of Microsoft’s cloud offerings available in South Africa. Office 365 will be offered by July of 2019, and Dynamics 365 will become available sometime in the fourth quarter of 2019. Microsoft expects that demand for  Azure and other services in Africa to triple in the coming years. Furthermore, they hope and expect that the availability for a local cloud will spur an economic boom to tech start-ups in Africa.