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Mark Orina for AWS Community Builders

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AWS Plans to Launch Local zones in Nairobi & Johannesburg: What does it mean?

Early this year AWS announced their planned global expansion of their AWS local zones to different areas in the world. Already, AWS has in the recent past completed 16 new local zones in the US and another 32 local zones in new metropolitan areas situated in 26 countries that are currently in the pipeline.

Notable cities in Africa include; Nairobi in Kenya and Johannesburg in South Africa.
This is after the successful rollout of the first in sub-Saharan Africa Edge Location in Kenya in 2020 and the first AWS region in Africa located in Cape Town South Africa.
This is really exciting and indicative of the rise of Africa as a cloud consumer and a critical player in the global scene, with more tech solutions coming from within the continent.

AWS footprint

So what does this mean for Kenya, South Africa, and Africa at large? Before we get into it let's start from the start, shall we?

What is cloud computing and AWS ?

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services like servers, storage, databases, networking, etc over the internet to the end-user. Fundamentally, giving you (the end-user) access to a huge amount of computing resources without you having to buy physical servers as you ‘rent’ them from the cloud provider.

Think about it like this: You have your smartphone and you like taking pictures. You take pictures until your storage is full. You have two choices;
a)buy a physical memory card
b) create an iCloud or Google photos account to get more storage without buying a memory card. That is you leveraging the cloud.

AWS is one of the world's largest cloud providers. They power Netflix, Safaricom, and Ajua. They have huge data centers, fiber optic networks that they have built over the years to provide a variety of services.

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Back to local zones :
Local zones are small data centers that extend AWS cloud computing closer to a large population, industry, or other information technology centers. This supercharges customers' ability to deploy applications with very little latency (loading time) closer to you as an end-user. The end result is users of the platform get single-digit latency for video streaming, financial transactions, and real-time gaming for users in the metropolitan area. This is quite timely with the 5G networks being rolled out in the coming years.
Local zones leverage a concept called edge computing whereby the focus is shifted from a central data center (i.e. in North Virginia) to the logical edge of the infrastructure essentially taking the cloud resources closer to the client. The principle is straightforward: If you can't get the data closer to the data center, get the data center closer to the data.

Also with the new Data Protection Act, 2019 9(passed in Kenya)requiring local data residency of customer data, local zones enable more organizations in Kenya to use be compliant while still leveraging the cloud.

My experience with AWS has been in working in a startup studio that is centered around building the next great African companies.This involves leveraging AWS to deploy and scale our portfolio projects impacting lives in Kenya.

To learn more check:
AWS press statement

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