Monday, April 22, 2013

Cloud computing firms scramble for EA market

Cloud computing allows one to store files online. FILE

Cloud computing allows one to store files online. FILE 

By ISAAC KHISA The EastAfrican

Competition for East Africa’s cloud computing market is set to intensify with the recent entry of One Solution Uganda into the arena.

The information technology firm targeting small and medium enterprises as well as corporate firms plans to use Kampala as its hub to expand into Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

“Our services will help companies increase efficiency, cut operational costs and ultimately promote economic growth in East Africa,” Claude Vendette, CEO of One Solution Uganda, said.

Cloud computing allows one to use files and applications over the Internet via a data centre.

“Imagine your company with several sites in East Africa, being able to call between offices at no user cost and conduct video-conferencing instead of travelling to share documents,” said Mr Vendette.

The development comes less than two months after Zimbabwe software company Twenty Third Century Systems (TTCS) began operating in Uganda, pitching its Cumulus cloud computing service to SMEs in the country and in Rwanda.

But while One Solution Uganda will offer its services at costs ranging between $125 and $225 per user per month, TTCS charges half these rates at between $75 to $125 per month.

Equally, MTN Group, which has been piloting the cloud computing service with an eye on SMEs in six of its main markets — Uganda, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa — plans to roll out full operations starting this month. Already, the company has unveiled the service in Ghana and Nigeria.

MTN Group enterprise business unit executive Farhad Khan said the response to the MTN Cloud trial, launched in December, was positive.

“The pilot project confirmed there is great appetite for ICT solutions that are relevant, customised and affordable,” Mr Khan said.

Kenyan case

In Kenya, there has been an increase in the number of IT firms offering cloud computing services over the past two years.

For example, a Swiss software firm Sofgen unveiled its cloud computing service in the country in 2012, eyeing the financial sector.

The product, Temenos T24, a cloud platform developed by US firm Microsoft Corporation, targets banks, microfinance institutions, deposit taking microfinance institutions and savings and credit co-operative societies.

Similarly, InfoConnect, a division of local firm Dimension Data, as well as Safaricom in partnership with Seven Seas Technologies, Cisco and EMC, also unveiled cloud computing services in 2011.