Global giant Amazon has launched a new Amazon Web Services (AWS) local zone in Lagos, one of 15 outside the United States. New Local Zones are a type of infrastructure deployment that places AWS compute, storage, databases, and other services close to large towns, industries, and information technology (IT) centers: Lagos is the largest city in populated region of Africa and is the economic powerhouse of West Africa. .
AWS customers can use Local Zones to deploy applications that require low latency to end users. Latency refers to the time it takes for data to travel from its source to its destination. Local zones will provide single-digit millisecond latency, which is required for optimal live streaming, virtual and augmented reality, and online gaming.
The proximity of the AWS local areas to the Lagos metropolis will help improve the development and performance of the applications that the people of Lagos and Nigeria in the broader sense use to access these services.
Beyond the aforementioned use cases, AWS Local Zones can also help customers who operate in regulated industries such as healthcare and financial services. Companies within these industries may have preferences or requirements to keep data within a geographic boundary.
According to Robin Njiru, AWS Regional Public Sector Lead for West, East, and Central Africa, the release will help enterprises deploy latency-sensitive workloads and meet local data residency requirements.
“We have designed Local Zones to support a wide range of use cases, from business applications that need to respond quickly to market fluctuations to interactive live events and gaming experiences. Customers in a variety of industries can now deliver innovative new services and experiences to their end users, all with familiar AWS infrastructure, services, APIs, and tools,” he said in a statement.
The Lagos State Government, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC and The Terragon Group are among the clients that have already sponsored the new Local Zones. Speaking about how the move will affect the local tech start-up scene, Hakeem Popoola Fahm, Lagos Science and Technology Commissioner, said: “The services available with AWS Local Zones will promote and accelerate the introduction of new digital solutions in our technology. and engineering location in the heart of Lagos.”
Backing up Fahm’s statement, Sochima Ezekwisili, a senior infrastructure engineer at Huawei, told TechCabal on a call that the new AWS Local Zones will help startups hosting their applications on AWS build faster and cheaper solutions. “If I want to host a streaming service on AWS for Nigerians from anywhere in the world, I have to use a content delivery network (CDN) to ensure Nigerians have low latency and experience it as if it were hosted in Nigeria. With AWS Local Zones in Nigeria, I no longer have to worry about a CDN because it’s hosted in Nigeria and it’s cheaper for me,” she said. International streaming companies like Netflix and Spotify use AWS to host their streaming services.
He also explained that because Amazon charges different rates for different regions, African startups using AWS had to pay high fees to host their applications. “Previously, if a startup hosted their application on AWS, it wasn’t hosted in Nigeria. But now, with AWS Local Zones in Nigeria, it may become cheaper for local startups to host their applications on AWS,” he said.
Ezekwisili also shared that Nigerians would also benefit from the new AWS Local Zones, as latency for AWS-hosted applications would be significantly reduced and “make the internet faster and easier to access.”
could africa digital infrastructure be on the rebound?
Last year, this publication called Africa “a digital market that is yet to happen.” The absence of the necessary digital infrastructure across the continent, such as data centers and fiber optic networks, and a well-honed plan to build it led to this statement.
Africa is home to just 86 colocation data centers across 15 countries, making it the continent with the fewest data centers per internet user in the world. The continent also has a higher percentage of its population (45%) living more than 10 kilometers from fiber network infrastructure than any other continent. These numbers have led to high latency issues and less than half of sub-Saharan Africa, 22%, is connected to the Internet.
Investments and partnerships from the public and private sectors will significantly change the leisurely pace that Africa is taking to become a digital economy. This year, in response, Africa Data Centers has announced the launch of two new data centers in Kenya and South Africa. In Kenya, the new facility will be completed by mid-2024 and will increase the company’s IT load from 4.5 megawatts to 15 megawatts. The South Africa hub will increase the number of Africa Data Centers in South Africa to four and continue to establish South Africa as the leader in data centers on the continent.
The Africa data center market size by investment was valued at $2 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow to $5 billion by 2026, growing at a cumulative annual growth rate of 15% during 2021-2026. To achieve this figure, infrastructure developments like the new AWS Local Zones would help pave the way.