The ever-changing relationship between man, labor, and material has always been a contentious topic for the future of humanity. It is even more contentious in the age we live in.

Through the various industrial stages, we have moved from manpower to machine production powered by steam engines, ushering in the mass production era. What followed then was the discovery of electricity and the innovation of the internal combustion engine. These new energy sources allowed increased automation in production. This would later be followed in the late 20th century by the introduction of electronics and microchips which ushered in the age of automation.

📷 Quick explanation of the 4 Industrial Revolutions.

Cloud technology introduction

Cloud computing technology is one of the next frontiers in the industrial race.

Cloud technology allows on-demand network access to shared computing resources. This model allows for the managing, storing, and processing of data via the internet. The big selling point behind the technology is the scalability to which clients can use the shared digital platforms thus saving costs.

Africa’s largest cloud companies are mostly multinational technology companies. The lack of authentic domestic participation, is a developmental dilemma that must be taken seriously and it needs to be urgently addressed. Increased localization of data centers is a must for Africa.

For Artificial Intelligence (AI) to work seamlessly with other integrated networks, data infrastructure is the rock on which cloud capabilities are built on.

📊 The number of colocation data centers available across different countries in Africa.

A matter of national security

An increase in the localization of data centers across Africa is not only a must, but also a matter of national security.

Information security guidelines instruct that repositories of critical information must reside in one's domain. As Africans, our data and information is stored in foreign data centers, exposing us to espionage and cyber attacks.

There are many scenarios under which the localization of data centers can prove critical for an African country. Let's assume that one South Africa takes on a political posture that is not favorable to a global super power like the United States of America or China. Hostile to this position, the global super power then instructs an information embargo against South Africa. Thus directly South African data and information housed in data centers within their jurisdiction. This cyber warfare tactic can easily be deployed to deny both the government and businesses in South Africa access to services and critical data and information.

"Information security guidelines instruct that repositories of critical information must reside in one's domain. As Africans, our data and information is stored in foreign data centers, exposing us to espionage and cyber attacks." - Bataung Qhotsokoane (Tweet this | Share this via WhatsApp)

This is why it is encouraging to see the South African government's effort to protect data sovereignty. The National Data & Cloud policy draft , published earlier in 2021 calls for “the South African government to play a more central role in the collection, dissemination and analysis of the data”. The draft policy suggests that data generated and owned by the government be stored and processed in a government High Performance Computing & Data Processing Center.

More interesting, the draft policy suggests the designation of national critical information infrastructure, on data centers housing critical cloud computing.

Africa is in an innovation battle over its cloud computing landscape. Multinationals are quickly scrambling and consolidating their positions as ‘kings of data’ in Africa. Africa and its children in the diaspora, must begin to expose themselves and investigate this new digital frontier. Africa’s true independence lies in its crusade to localize its data centers.

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