Africa finally joins Google’s global cloud network

Google has announced the launch of a cloud region in South Africa, its first in the African continent. South Africa now joins Google’s network of 35 cloud regions and 106 zones worldwide.

Google is also said to be building what are called ‘Dedicated Cloud Interconnect’ sites on the continent. These sites, in Nairobi, Lagos, Cape Town and Johannesburg, will link users’ on-premises networks with Google’s grid. They will also be supported by links to Google’s Equiano subsea cable.

Google Cloud regions allow users to deploy cloud resources from specific geographic locations and access several services including cloud storage, compute engine and key management systems. 

Obviously the fact that, as Google Cloud Africa Director Niral Patel puts it, “The new region will allow for the localization of applications and services,” and that the new region and interconnect sites will take its cloud computing services closer to its clients are both very important. 

This move should also make it easier for Google to address the growing trend towards privacy and data laws that require companies to store their data within borders and process it through servers hosted locally.

While South Africa is the biggest market for cloud services on the continent, Google is said to be looking to launch in more markets within Africa, although, as more than one local media outlet points out, it’s not obvious why the company waited so long. Giants like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure made inroads into the continent a few years ago. In fact South Africa now houses four major cloud storage providers on the continent.

That said, Google last year announced a five-year, $1 billion plan to boost digital services across Africa and the company has made quite a few investments in local technology infrastructure and initiatives, including its first product development centre in Africa, which is in Nairobi. An AI and research centre opened in Ghana in 2019.