Microsoft plans to deliver intelligent Microsoft Cloud, for the first time, from data centres located in Africa. The technology firm says it is part of its mission to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more, and a recognition of the enormous opportunity for digital transformation in Africa.

Microsoft will deliver cloud services, including Microsoft Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365, directly from data centres located in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa with initial availability anticipated in 2018. The new cloud regions will offer enterprise-grade reliability and performance combined with data residency to help enable the tremendous opportunity for economic growth, and increase access to cloud and internet services for organisations and people across the African continent.

Jon Tullett, research manager of IT Services at IDC Africa, says “this is a significant announcement as none of the top-tier cloud providers has [sic] traditionally had a data centre footprint in Africa. It, therefore, gives Microsoft an enormous first mover advantage on the African continent”.

“We’re excited by the growing demand for cloud services in Africa and the ability of the cloud to act as a catalyst for new economic opportunities,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Cloud and Enterprise Group, Microsoft Corp. “By delivering the Microsoft Cloud from within Africa, cloud services ranging from intelligent collaboration to predictive analytics will spur entrepreneurship and innovation, fuel growth for businesses of all sizes, and enable government organisations to better serve the needs of their citizens.”

“This development broadens the options available to us in our modernisation journey of Government ICT infrastructure and services. It allows us to take advantage of new opportunities to develop innovative government solutions at manageable costs, as well as drive overall improvements in operations management, while improving transparency and accountability,” says Dr. Setumo Mohapi, chief executive officer at SITA.