Kenya will be among the 21 Member States of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), to benefit from a feasibility study, aimed at setting up an Africa Cloud Ecosystem
Dubbed the (ACE) project, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and COMESA have signed a Letter of Agreement for a Sh65.1 million grant to support the feasibility study that will take 12 months and will be piloted as a continental program focusing on COMESA Member States.
In a press release by COMESA Secretariat, Thursday, the NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility grant, will support the First Phase Market Analysis (Pre-investment study), which will assess the market for the ACE project and examine the bankability of the project, including testing of the concept in the COMESA region.
The project is meant to contribute to the implementation of a State-of-the-Art facility that will offer essential and sustainable ICT infrastructure services to COMESA Member States and the African continent.
COMESA Secretary General (SG), Chileshe Kapwepwe, said once the African Cloud Ecosystem project is completed, it will reduce the cost of doing business and enhance competitiveness on the global scene, through fostering regional connectivity and deepening regional integration on the continent.
In a speech read on her behalf by the COMESA Assistant Secretary for programmes, Ambassador Kipyego Cheluget, the SG noted that launching of the market analysis for the cloud Ecosystem is a manifestation of the existence of the cordial relationship between the two institutions and assured of COMESAs full support and commitment to further strengthen the cordial Partnership.
“The project aims to provide an affordable, secure, reliable, fast cloud hosting system for Africa,” She stated, adding that most African countries are still constrained for lack of critical ICT infrastructure, including low broadband penetration of about 10 percent and small leveraged power capacity along with high cost of hosting services.
“Most African data storages are hosted outside the continent and the ACE project will lay the foundation in the provision of a premium facility mainly powered with efficient and clean energy that is an affordable, secured, reliable, fast cloud hosting system for Africa.
The Country Manager, Africa Development Bank, Zambia Country office and Special Representative to COMESA, Raubil Olaniyi Durowoju, said that despite Africa being the second largest continent after Asia, Internet penetration in Africa was the lowest at 20 percent less versus 90 percent in Europe and North America.
“The Africa Cloud Ecosystem project, will be a first of its kind, laying the foundation to facilitate the African continent to undertake this shift in the key sectors of economy, education, government, agriculture and health through the provision of a reliable ecosystem of data centres,” Dr. Durowoju said.
He described the project as a pioneer of big data in Africa and a marketplace for governments to request for information from all industries such as public transportation management, retail, transaction data among others.
The ACE project is expected to facilitate regional integration by taking full advantage of technologies and setting up the foundations of a duty free, quota-free area, which goes beyond the data-only aspects.
Its development is also expected to increase the sustainability and viability of information and provide a pivotal way of transitioning Africa’s community into a digital economic community.
Besides significantly lowering the cost for hosting services, identified as a main reason for African businesses to host their services overseas, the project will also remove barriers faced by African enterprises by promoting intra-regional trade and boost innovation.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is a regional economic community established in 1994.
It brings together 21 African Member States with a population of 586 million people into a cooperative framework for sustainable economic growth and prosperity through regional integration.
COMESA’s main focus is on the formation of a large economic and trading unit that is capable of overcoming some of the barriers that are faced by individual states.