The Cloud and Africa – Indicators for Growth of Cloud Computing

The Cloud and Africa – Indicators for Growth of Cloud Computing 

by Alex Laverty

18 May 2011

The recent emergence of cloud computing as a paradigm for economic development opens opportunities for African countries seeking to engage world markets despite lacking the traditional infrastructure used to facilitate trade. The arrival of Information Communication Technology (ICT) as a major factor in economic growth means that more developing countries will pursue policies that open up their country to mobile, internet, and broadband penetration. On the African continent only mobile technology has seen significant growth thus far. However, the recent landing of three broadband submarine fiber-optic cables promises to bring increased connectivity to the region, leading to a spurt of broadband penetration. Cloud computing will require more than just mobile penetration and broadband connections, which is why this paper will examine areas can be predictors for the expansion of the use of cloud computing in Sub-Saharan Africa (hereinafter, Africa). These predictors will be put into a model that seeks to ascertain which country in Africa is most primed to adopt cloud computing.

Despite the need to understand macro socio-economic indicators that influence penetration, the three key areas of mobile, internet, and broadband will be critical to the spread of the model of cloud computing. With cloud computing, economic growth can be spurred through the cost reduction in hardware and software that businesses and governments must spend to run their information systems technology. The cloud, the common shorthand for this linking of terminals, can allow users to scale services, to reprovision technical services, and keep overhead costs like security and server space at lower levels. It can provide powerful computing systems at a fraction of the cost of traditional infrastructure.  Both large and small companies and governments can benefit from the cloud. Large companies can save the costs of housing and maintaining their entire IT systems by moving it offsite to the remote servers that power the cloud. Small firms can save on start up costs by accessing the ready made applications provided by service providers. Finally, the collaboration and communication that can be achieved through the cloud allow African developers and entrepreneurs to be part of global development and conversations in ways that traditional communication systems have limited their involvement. A current example is the development of mobile apps. A developer in Rwanda can use web based applications to create and test an app for the iPhone and then publish their completed work to Apple’s App Store where any iPhone user in the world can purchase the app and download it. This creates economic links that were unimaginable before cloud computing.

With all these advantages to be gained through access to the cloud, developing countries are right to pursue policies that increase ICT infrastructure and increase availability of cloud computing tools. However, substantial challenges stand in the way of cloud computing in Africa. These go beyond the traditional obstacles seen in the current debate on cloud computing such as data controls, vendor ‘lock-in’, and sovereignty issues. Obstacles in Africa center primarily on infrastructure and government policy. With most development studies on the cloud focused on countries in the BRICS alliance this paper will set out to examine these infrastructure and policy obstacles specifically on the African continent to understand which countries are ‘cloud-ready’.

The Cloud

Defining the Cloud seems to be one of the most difficult parts of understanding this 21st century creation. Some define it broadly as “the next stage in the evolution of the internet” (Hurwitz). Others label it as “new computing and information architecture” that integrate massive and low-cost information storage with services that provide virtual computer systems that flex to meet the needs of the user (Cowhey & Aronson 44). Finally, it can be seen as service on demand: infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, software as a service, and data storage as a service. Thus creating a layer of architecture where various resources as provided for different levels of need (Pokharel and Park).

The idea of cloud computing comes into focus when the current needs of IT are examined: the cost of increasing or adding capabilities that often require new infrastructure, the time to train users and technicians to maintain the system, and the software licenses that are often prohibitively expensive for small companies. Cloud computing extends IT’s existing capabilities (or sometimes can substitute for IT) by creating a pay-per-use, on demand service that can be deployed in real time over the internet (Knorr).

The cloud delivers services to the user without the concern for backend software and hardware requirements thus allowing the user to focus on the results obtained rather than the inner workings of how the cloud works. The ability to scale and flex is a critical part of the benefits that the cloud offers. Also the cloud is a multi-tenant facility, allowing more than one user or company to use the same service at one time. Most importantly for this study centered on Africa, the cloud must also be resilient. There must be data storage options for when there is a loss of electricity and to provide sufficient security to satisfy the needs of businesses and governments to keep information safe and private. The provisioning of services is automated meaning that the user can requisition services as needed without having to go through a lengthy registration and allocation period. This is a key component for African businesses who often deal with some of the longest wait periods to start a business. Lastly, many of the cloud’s services are standardized meaning a certain ease of use for users to collaborate cross-platform in the cloud. When one thinks of inter-African trade and the many obstacles such as tariffs, corruption, and infrastructure that stand as hinderances, the Cloud provides an avenue of clear inter-state relations that can encourage trade rather than inhibit it.

Cloud Ready

According to Jim Furrier of Silicon Angle, the state of ‘cloud readiness’ is determined by the knowledge level of how technology, services, and solutions will take advantage of expertise and how best to implement this technology. While ‘cloud-ready’ terminology has generally been applied to companies, this term will be used to gauge the ability of states to utilize cloud computing based on the level of ICT penetration that has been gained. The benefits of infrastructure cost reduction, leveled the playing field, the lack of software roll out on hardware which benefits rural and poor users, and finally the ability to scale up as demand increases all speak directly to the needs of African businesses and consumers (Kshetri).

This readiness will be examined by comparing socio-economic and wireless connectivity indicators on the African continent. The five categories, ICT, infrastructure, business, investment, and socio-economic. will show which countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are most ‘cloud-ready’. These indicators were chosen to show the push and pull factors of movement to the cloud. The push factors would be those that cause users to move away from traditional avenues of growth, meaning those inhibitors such as long business start up times and an unreliable power grid would cause firms to look at new technologies that could help compensate for those detractors. On the other side, pull factors, just like those in immigration theory, cause firms to seek out cloud computing based on the advantages it could provide. The factors of mobile, internet, and broadband penetration, as well as some socio-economic indicators pull factors will be included in my study.

Unique obstacles currently inhibit growth in economies found in the developing world. It has rarely been the case that in the post-war years for European or American businesses to regularly operate under the threat of power blackout. Additionally, the developed world generally leads the way in bureaucracy efficiency when compared to those governments in emerging and developing nations. Thus innovation can occur more quickly in an environment where businesses can establish themselves quickly to meet a new market demand. Both of these factors vary, but generally they stand as inhibitors to innovation in the developing world, especially in Africa. With cloud computing the ingenuity and creativeness of innovators and creators can reach the market with unparalleled speed. Thus bypassing corruption, red tape, and economic inefficiencies in one pass. Thus those countries that experience high levels of those three characteristics would be likely to adopt cloud computing faster than others.

Developing Countries and the Cloud

With ICT for Development representing an area of high interest for the International Telecommunications Union, the World Bank, and other development agencies, it was inevitable that the functions of cloud computing would be applied towards development. These functions are usually listed as e-education, e-health, e-commerce, e-governance, e-environment, and telecommuting. These functions are areas that governments and aid agencies can devote projects and resources to in order to improve a target socio-economic statistic. However, these categories are still in the embryonic stage, just like cloud computing as a whole in Africa, thus their definitions and uses will likely vary in application, but each primary role is outlined below.

e-Education

E-education, also referred to as online learning, is learning facilitated through ICT hardware that allows students to access a central curriculum and knowledge repositories based in the cloud that allow users to take courses electronically. Thus, e-education can be used to describe any type of education that is enhanced by the use of ICTs and online communication (Nagy). E-education is suited to distance learning programs that can be scaled to accommodate fluctuations in enrollment. E-education has led to M-Learning, or mobile learning, the use of mobile phones as the primary education tool. The ability to improve access to education for developing country’s citizens could prove to be an equalizer to the gap that stands between rich and poor countries. If the secondary school children of Tanzania can access the same e-education portal that same age children use in Iowa, education very quickly becomes no longer reliant on national GDP or teacher to student ratios. While e-education is not the magic bullet for a country’s education woes, it could greatly improve the system with less investment required. If Tanzania could equip each child with an iPad when they enter secondary school, the need to spend on books, writing supplies, and testing materials is minimized and in some cases eliminated. This terminal to access the cloud, the iPad in this example, is not the most crucial piece, but any terminal will need to be able to provide access in a wide range of environments, be user-friendly, and have low IT support needs. The most crucial part of this example would be the infrastructure in the Cloud. Making sure the curriculum is locally aligned, that student data is secure, and that the entire education system could run on interoperable systems, allowing communication across platforms if necessary.

An early front runner in e-education is Khan Academy. What started as a way for a hedge fund manager to educate his cousin, Salman Khan now runs the e-education site full time and completely free. With now over 2100 videos online, posted through YouTube and also contained on his website KhanAcademy.org, users can learn about math, science, economics, finance, and history from a man armed with a digital blackboard and two degrees from MIT and Harvard (Khan Academy and Michel). By teaming with school districts in the United States, Khan imagines a flip in the learning method: lectures happening at home on the students’ own time and the actual ‘home’ work, the implementation of what was learned, happening inside of the classroom with guidance from the teacher (Salman Khan). By implementing this approach in the developing countries of Africa, where human capital or teachers that have these advanced skills may not be widespread, it could be a sufficient proxy to teach the material and allow for further advancement based on the student’s personal interest. Those African countries with high teacher to student ratio would be most likely to adopt an e-education strategy in order to compensate for the lack of professional teachers.

e-Health

E-health is an area of focus for Africa because HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria infest parts of the continent. The definition for e-health is varied, but one that is most succinct is the definition provided by the WTO in 2005: e-health is the use of information and communication technologies for health systems either locally or at a distance. A definition advocated by Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society goes a bit more in-depth to what that ICT might do:

The application of Internet and other related technologies in the healthcare industry to improve the access, efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of clinical and business processes utilized by healthcare organizations, practitioners, patients, and consumers to improve the health status of patients.

For Africa, the lack of doctors and medical facilities is a sufficiently wide known fact, thus making the advantages of e-health an obvious benefit. For these benefits to be achieved, challenges must be overcome as a 2008 study on e-health in South Africa pointed out (Mars and Seebregts). These include low broadband penetration, expensive bandwidth, and many computer illiterate health-workers. Mars and Seebregts write that the purpose of e-health would be to “contribute to the improvement of the health status of the people of South Africa through optimal use of ICTs” (8). They envision the use of e-health to contribute to the delivery of health care, surveillance of diseases and services, the management of health care institutions, and providing support in disaster relief. Additionally, the Cloud would be used to  provide access to medical knowledge, applications and literature, while serving as a source for public and formal education for health (8).

An example of the Cloud in action on the continent is a collaborative project in Uganda. Created in 2003, the Uganda Health Information Network, set out to improve health workers’ access to medical information and access to current health system data through the use of handheld computers, or PDAs, that could access the nation’s 3G network to transmit data collection. A study of the project found that the instant transmission of medical information saw an average improvement in reporting between 20-85% for the regions where PDAs were implemented. It also found that the another facet of the program, Continuing Medical Education (CME), greatly improved the quality of those health practitioners in the program. The cloud enabled CME learners to access the most recent information while in rural areas while also bringing down the costs of delivery of data. The challenges were the availability of cheap electricity to charge the users’ PDAs and the incompatibility of software used to collect information between different PDA manufacturers (Uganda Chartered HealthNet).

Thus the health divide, just like the education divide, is a target of cloud computing technology in Africa. While there have been dramatic rises in urban populations in recent years, most Africans still reside in the rural areas. The penetration of socio-economic benefits in these areas are usually low except for the recent expansion of mobile telephony. Thus using this access road of technology, e-health hopes to extend preventive care and nutritional knowledge by piggybacking along mobiles phones. Samake and Mbarika allude to this strategy in their white paper, eHealth in Africa: A Vision for Healthier African. In fact they say that e-health programs need to work in tandem with e-education because of low literacy rates that may cause the failure of e-health programs that rely on text messages or other written communication methods to spread health information. Thus countries with high literacy rates would benefit more rapidly from e-health programs than those that have low literacy rates.

e-Commerce

The third component that cloud computing in Africa will look to take advantage of is e-commerce. Princeton Dictionary defines e-commerce simply: commerce conducted electronically (as on the internet). This definition obfuscates the processes of developing, marketing, selling, delivering, servicing, and paying for products and services that the Cloud can provide. A notable example would be the online shopping site Amazon.com. However, buying and selling are not the only functions as online banking, enterprise content management, supply chain management, and teleconferencing can all fall under the e-commerce header.

Online banking sticks out of those functions because of the much publicized success of the M-PESA in Kenya. Launched at the beginning of 2007 in cooperation with UK based Vodacom and the UK’s aid agency DFID, M-PESA (mobile + pesa, the Kiswahili word for money), has revolutionized banking and commerce in Kenya. While the benefits of M-PESA are numerous (the quick transaction of payments, the sending of remittances, and scalability), the immense popularity of the service led to the adoption of the system by the traditional banking system, which has been critical to its rise as a medium of payment systems. However, none of this would be possible had the mobile penetration not existed, together with cloud software to keep track of all remote and electronic payments. After targeting rural unbanked Kenyans, the number of subscribers using M-PESA has reached 13.5 million this spring, meaning over 80% of Safaricom’s subscribers use the service (Safaricom). Now M-PESA’s success is under the microscope of the World Bank and other development agencies in order to find out how to replicate Kenya’s success with mobile banking in other countries. Thus with most African consumers linked to the cloud through mobile devices rather than traditional ICTs such as computer terminals, e-commerce diffusion will require a high percentage of the population to have mobile phones. As seen in Kenya the scaling up of M-PESA allowed it to become more interoperable with the traditional banking system. Additionally, the partnership with outside firms that had cloud based experience was no doubt critical to the systems’s development. Measuring economic factors for investment opportunities would be found in another paper, but this study can project a market’s attractiveness to cloud computing solutions for e-commerce based on what percentage of the population is online.

The second part of the e-commerce examination is the negative conditions that often exist in developing countries that are detrimental to entrepreneurs and new businesses. The process to set up a business in many African countries is difficult and often intentionally prohibitive. This is changing as neo-liberal economic reforms are implemented, but the difficulty remains in many countries. For many people, the desire to migrate is often caused by the lack of employment opportunities for themselves in their home country. However, if there was a mechanism where they could innovate, create, and market their ideas and their products, perhaps the need to seek pastures anew would be mitigated to an extent, or at least cause more economic interlinkages to be created due to the connection between producers and electronic sellers. Thus in states that have environments that do not favor new business, there would be a higher likelihood that their producers would move to the cloud or seek out opportunities that allowed them to bypass traditional trade bottlenecks, corruption, and inefficient bureaucracy.

Scope of Study (Tables for the Cloud in Africa)

This paper’s study encompasses the 10 largest internet using populations on the African continent: Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Zambia. Rwanda is added as number 11 due to the government’s focus on ICTs as a driver of economic growth. Using the parameters set out above in the three areas of cloud computing that this study seeks to predict, the study will seek to see how the Rwandan ICT-based economy stacks up to the traditional powers on internet usage. The study will use World Bank data so that sources can be easily verified, but also for simplification. In researching this data, many data sets were incomplete, especially when looking for trends over 5 year periods between 2005-2009. Data from Transparency International has been added for the Corruption indicator. Some indicator tables were forced to compile only the most recent data from each country. Thus indicators are not available for use in the most current same year. However, for each indicators used, one year was used as the point of comparison inside the indicator

The original indicators that the study sought to use are presented in Box 1. They have been grouped into five different categories, including Transparency International’s Corruption Index to gauge if levels of corruption might play a part in cloud technology adoption. These indicators will be supplemented with data when appropriate for analyzing the particular cloud computing service. This wide range of indicators would not be necessary had the International Telecommunications Union continued their widely publicized Digital Access Index that was completed for the year 2003, and then never repeated. My study will not create an index as it does not have access to so-called ‘goalpost’ values. However, it will assign value to where a country lies in each indicator table and then compile the summation, after using weighed data, to create a number that will be used to gauge overall ‘cloud-readiness’.

Before finding ranking cloud-readiness by country, we must examine the three areas of cloud computing that were addressed above. First, e-education systems would most benefit countries that suffer from high teacher to student ratios. If a national education system were to use a system like Khan Academy, the country would need a strong broadband network to deploy a system that was data-intensive because of video streaming requirements.  Not only would broadband accessibility be important, but the amount of subscribers in each country would give an idea about how affordable it is in that country. With submarine cables landing along West Africa (WACS), East Africa (EASSy), and Southern Africa (SAT-3) over the next year, undoubtedly these figures will change but this study is constrained to the figures that can be obtained in the present.

E-education Table

Thus when the table of broadband, both mobile and fixed, as well as student to teacher ratios is examined, Kenya and Nigeria stick out as the potential markets for e-education success (Table 1). While both have low fixed broadband subscribers in the most recent data of 2009, the respective regional ICT giants have some of the most mobile broadband subscribers. With both seeing the landing of massive submarine cables at their door steps, the number of fixed users will undoubtedly rise. However, to get to the rural youth where e-education could be most successful, mobile telephony is going to be the quickest way to serve that population. Thus the need for teachers combined with their mobile broadband numbers make Kenya and Nigeria the best candidates for the cloud computing aspect of e-education. Uganda would probably be the least likely due to its low broadband penetration, both mobile and fixed, plus slower 3G speeds. This is unfortunate because as a landlocked country, Uganda will rely on its coastal neighbor to provide the links to the ESSAy cable.

For e-health, it was determined that those countries with high literacy rates would most benefit from a Cloud that provided health information and infrastructure. By aligning literacy rates with the rates of the three major diseases in developing nations, TB prevalence, deaths due to malaria, and HIV/AIDS infection rates we can see which countries have the demand for e-health

E-health Table

services and capacity to implement. In table 2, both Zimbabwe and South Africa stand out for their very high literacy rates as well as high rates of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Conversely, a country with high demand but low chance of success based on e-health requirements, is Cote d’Ivoire. With the recent ravages of a civil conflict, the literacy rate is unlikely to spike any time soon, thus leaving conventional e-health approaches, which require users being able to read information, on shaky ground because of a literacy rate of just over half of the population.

Finally, for e-commerce mobile penetration is going to be a good indicator for the success of a solution like the M-PESA to take hold. In table 3 we see that South Africa’s mobile penetration rate makes it an ideal candidate to host mobile based commerce companies. Obviously, Zimbabwe’s business climate and low penetration rate mean that little business is going to succeed if not connected to the ruling party, thus pushing some businesses to the cloud. The draw back for Zimbabwean business men and women is the low mobile subscriptions per 100 people. Cote d’Ivoire also appears to make sense for investors who are not risk-averse. The country’s high level of mobile subscribers per 100, plus the hostile business environment makes sense for entrepreneurs to take their business to the cloud in order to avoid the corrupt state and gain a large base of potential consumers.

Table for E-Commerce

Lastly, using 13 of the 19 indicators from my initial box I can create a ranking of the most cloud ready Sub-Saharan African continent. The indicators cover the basics that this study believes is necessary for fostering the Cloud in a developing nation. However, due a lack of comprehensive data, some factors were excluded from the Cloud Readiness Index. These excluded factors are both of the infrastructure indicators (Rail lines and percentage of paved roads), the researchers in R&D per million, public spending on education, and births attended by skilled health staff. The study would have been greatly improved by having infrastructure statistics included in order to put forth the hypothesis that less infrastructure could induce companies and governments to invest in the cloud to bypass a factor that is very hard to improve quickly. The lack of public spending on education data was surprising given the amount of effort put into education on the continent. Four countries were missing, Uganda, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Sudan, thus making it precarious to factor this into the findings. Though it should be noted that Kenya, the hub of ICT in East Africa has the highest amount of spending percentage of GDP on education among the eleven countries compared. One study in 2003 found that over 50% of internet use is devoted to teaching materials, placing third behind Email (85.7%) and Academic Research (79.6%) (Oyelaran-Oyeyinka & Adeya). Thus, there is obviously a budget devotion to education in the country and it will require further study to see if education spending and ICT usage and penetration are linked.

The final indicators for the index were broken into five subsets for gauge different results. First, ICT penetration used Internet Users per 100, Fixed Broadband Subscribers per 100, and Mobile Cellular subscriptions per 100  to represent the amount of ICT usage in a country thus showing how many people would use the Cloud, and whether there was a large enough market to provide incentive for the provision of Cloud services. Second, to measure the business climate in the country the indicators of Difficulty of Doing Business (1=least business friendly regulations), Business Start up time, the number of procedures to register a business, and Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (1=least corrupt) were tabulated. Using this data, the goal was to get a picture of how difficult it was for a business to conduct traditional operations. If conditions were not conducive, the assumption made is that businesses would look for other avenues to conduct business and as such the Cloud would be an attractive alternative. Third, the current ICT market in each country was measured through the percentage of ICT goods exports (of total goods exports) and the percentage of ICT service exports (of total exports). For socio-economic conditions, pupil/teacher ratio in primary school, literacy rate, and health expenditure per capita were used to see if the population would be able to take advantage of the Cloud and if there would be a demand from the development professionals and non-governmental organizations.

To achieve the Cloud Readiness Index, certain categories were weighted in order to stress their significance to cloud computing diffusion. Weighted by a factor of 4 were Internet Users per 100 and Fixed Broadband Subscribers per 100, these were classified as Primary indicators. If there are no users of the internet and the connectivity is slow, the benefits of the cloud are unlikely to be obtained. The rankings of each country in the respective categories were multiplied by 4 in order to give the weight to the position of where the country ranked on that part of the table. Realizing that there are still other factors that will go towards readying a country and economy for the cloud, three other indicators were weighted by a factor two: Difficulty of Doing Business, Literacy Rate, and current ICT sector (as measured by service exports), these were classified as secondary. The first was ranked in reverse of Business Ease, which may be unintuitive to measuring the start of a business, but this index is looking for which country is most likely to move to cloud computing based on their current harsh conditions. This index assumes that there is the same amount of desire to start businesses in each country, yet certain conditions prevent the same number of businesses from starting. Thus if there is pent up demand for business and regulations and corruption prevent it from being released, businesses would be more likely to move to the cloud to avoid these obstacles. Literacy rate, as stressed before, means that there are more consumers available to use ICT technologies to access the benefits from cloud services. Third, if the higher the level of ICT service industries in the country the higher probability that there will be greater knowledge of cloud computing and its benefits.

The remaining indicators in the index were averaged. This was required because of the lack of data on Sudan and Zimbabwe’s value lost to electrical outages. The final total would create a large number tabulated from primary, secondary, and other indicators. The lower the score on the index, the more ready the country was to move to the cloud because of the indicators explained above.

When the indicators are weighted and summed, the results are surprising based on which countries make the top 5 Cloud Ready countries. With South Africa, always the obvious number one as the economic hegemon on the continent, leading the way, Zimbabwe and Sudan place second and fourth, respectively. When the business and political conditions of each country are taken into consideration, perhaps it is not as surprising that these two conflict ridden nations would be able to capitalize on cloud computing. Both have high rates of ICT users (top 4 in both Primary Categories), Zimbabwe has the most literate population of the table, and they rank second and third on the table for the Difficulty of Doing Business Index, as well as extremely long wait periods for starting a business. Sudan is in the top 5 for ICT users, and like Zimbabwe has in inhospitable business environment. Senegal and Kenya hold the next spot three and five, which might change in the coming years as both are the starting points for two major broadband cables.

Cloud Readiness Index

Rounding out the bottom of the table is Rwanda. Rwanda was not among the top ten African countries in Internet users, which means it started at a disadvantage, but its inclusion was based on government moves to make ICT one of the major drivers of growth in the country. This index will unlikely suit Rwanda as it punishes them for their very agreeable business environment. If the economy moves towards being ICT-based it will require further analysis to see if cloud computing adoption is attached to ICT penetration, or whether the indicators in this study are better predictors.

Limitations

The lack of data on some countries held back this index from being more inclusive. Also, the lack of data on the indicators that were used would appear to give advantage to Sudan and Zimbabwe because those countries would presumably have power disruption, but by inserting different data points, their final score changed only marginally. Additionally, the lack of one inclusive year for all data makes the findings less up to date, however the intention of the study was to compare countries, and with the same years used in each respective indicator, the comparison should still be valid.

In terms of usage of indicators, the number of internet users and mobile cellular subscriptions will likely converge because of the spread of smart phones that are internet enabled in the coming years.

Conclusion 

The cloud offers many advantages and benefits to emerging and developing nations. Much of the cloud literature ignores these developmental benefits and ICT4D has yet to embrace the cloud into their areas of focus. Both of these facts are likely to change in the coming years with more connectivity to Africa as well as the large consumer base that the continent’s population represents to developed, cloud-based, markets. Development and NGO stakeholders will likely move to promoting cloud based solutions as they grow more familiar with the cloud. The intersection of cloud computing and ICT4D would be extremely beneficial to emerging nations. The benefits of cloud computing in Africa demonstrated in this paper are just a part of the dynamic world of cloud computing. As fast as the cloud is evolving in terms of policy in the West, so does the speed of progress need to be harnessed on the African continent. Countries would do well to examine the results in cloud computing analysis papers to determine which areas of improvement they must embark on to encourage the spread the ICTs and cloud based solutions.

Finding the complete solution for Africa will involve many different parties and many different techniques. Cloud computing must be included in that toolkit to spur growth, innovation, and upliftment. By investigating their respective indicators in socio-economics, ICT penetration, and business environments, countries can determine which cloud based component suits them the best. Not every country will pursue the same cloud based computing path, as this paper has shown different indicators suggest success in implementation in different solutions. However, finding that best fit for each country’s need should be a critical area of focus for cloud computing experts in the years to come.

Tables for the Cloud in Africa

Works Cited

Cowhey, Peter F. And Jonathan D. Aronson. Transforming Global Information Communication Markets. MIT Press, Cambridge, 2009.

Furrier, John. “What is “Cloud Ready?”” Silicon Angle. 28 Oct 2008.

Hurwitz, Judith, Robin Bloor, and Marcia Kaufman. Cloud Computing for Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc; Indianapolis, 2010.

Knorr, Eric and Galen Gruman. “What Cloud Computing Really Means.” The New York Times. 7 Apr 2008.

Kshetri, Nir. “Cloud Computing in Developing Economies: Drivers, Effects, and Policy Measures.” Pacific Telecommunications Council ’10 Proceedings, January 2010.

Mars, Maurice and Chris Seebregts. “Country Case Study for e-Health: South Africa.” e-HealthConnection.org. 2009.

Michels, Spencer. “Khan Academy: How to Calculate the Unemployment Rate.” The Rundown. PBS.org 22 Feb 2010.

Nagy, Attila. “The Impact of E-Learning.” ICT Business Consultancy. 2005.

Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, Banji and Catherine Nyaki Adeya. “Internet Access in Africa: empirical evidence from Kenya and Nigeria.” Institute for New Technologies. February 2003 Safaricom. “About M-PESA”. Safaricom.co.ke. 28 April 2011.

Pokharel, Manish J. S. Park. “Cloud computing: future solution for e-governance.” 3rd International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance, November 2009. “Salman Khan: Let’s use video to reinvent education”. www.ted.com. March 2011.

Samake, Kibily and Victor Mbarika. “An African Pioneer Comes of Age: Evolution of Information and Communication Technologies in Uganda.” Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations, Vol 4; 2009.

Uganda Health Information Network. “Best Practices.” Service D’Informatique Medicale. August 2007.

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16 thoughts on “The Cloud and Africa – Indicators for Growth of Cloud Computing

  1. Wow. What a post. Excellent! I’m not sure a more detailed study of Cloud readiness in Africa exists. I wish there had been a little more emphasis on the business benefit rather than just the ICT4D advantages. More than the e-commerce, there are also business apps that run in the Cloud that will help African SMBs access better and more powerful apps for less money. That creates opportunity for African developers. But really, that is nitpicking. This is an excellent piece. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks so much for the high praise. Finding scholarly work on this topic focused on Africa was hard, which is why I stayed in the ICT4D field. Though I would love to examine the app world since Africa’s future is likely in smartphones and tablets, not just 2G mobile phones. Please let me know if you have any info in that field!

  3. Pingback: The African Cloud: Predictors for Adoption of Cloud Computing | The African File

  4. Its time Africa realize that our future is in technology.We didn’t run out of stones when we moved away from the stone age.I believe we just have to be aware that these are ever changing times.Great article

  5. Hi,

    I would love to cite this essay for an academic paper I am writing on top-down versus bottom-up diffusion of innovation in third world countries. However, I am unsure who the author(s) is. Is it all the people listed in the “About” page? Thanks so much!

  6. Pingback: Cloud Computing in Afrika – eine Wachstumschance? | BusinessCloud.de

  7. Pingback: Introducing The Week That Was | The African File

  8. Pingback: Introducing The Week That Was | The African File

  9. I am also looking to cit this paper but there is no date as to when this paper was written…. can you clarify?? Good work by the way…don’t think I found anyhthing to top this….

  10. Dr Takang,

    Thanks for your kind words. The paper was published on 18 May 2011. I’ve amended the page to include the date. Thanks for the feedback!

  11. I am currently writing an MSc thesis in the area of Cloud computing suggested for development in the Interactive media industry of West Africa. (not exact topic but almost the same).
    Although this paper has not pin-pointed on my topic, however what it has done quite clearly is to focus the cloud topic around the African Development which in many ways are what my literature review would talk about before narrowing it down, so thank you for this.
    Indeed there has been a few literature focusing on the African development and the cloud, its mostly been a repetition of each other when it comes to the benefits and obstacles of adopting the cloud, whereas this paper was not focusing too much on that but rather on the topic of African and bringing home those situation peculiar to the continent.
    Thanks once again, I will sure reference this.

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