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Today, I am pleased to announce the general availability of Microsoft Azure from our new cloud regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa. Nedbank, Peace Parks Foundation, and eThekwini water are just a few of the organizations in Africa leveraging Microsoft cloud services today and will benefit from the increased computing resources and connectivity from our new cloud regions.

The launch of these regions marks a major milestone for Microsoft as we open our first enterprise-grade datacenters in Africa, becoming the first global provider to deliver cloud services from datacenters on the continent. The new regions provide the latest example of our ongoing investment to help enable digital transformation and advance technologies such as AI, cloud, and edge computing across Africa.

By delivering the comprehensive Microsoft Cloud — comprising Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365 — from datacenters in a given geography, we offer scalable, available, and resilient cloud services to companies and organizations while meeting data residency, security, and compliance needs. We have deep expertise in protecting data and empowering customers around the globe to meet extensive security and privacy requirements, including offering the broadest set of compliance certifications and attestations in the industry.

With 54 regions announced worldwide, more than any other cloud provider, Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure will connect the new regions in South Africa with greater business opportunity, help accelerate new global investment, and improve access to cloud and Internet services across Africa.

Accelerating digital transformation in Africa

As we execute our expansion strategy, we consider the demand for locally delivered cloud services and the opportunity for digital transformation in the market. According to a study from IDC, spending on public cloud services in South Africa will nearly triple over the next five years, and the adoption of cloud services will generate nearly 112,000 net-new jobs in South Africa by the end of 2022. The increased utilization of public cloud services and the additional investments into private and hybrid cloud solutions will enable organizations in South Africa to focus on innovation and building digital businesses at scale.

Nedbank, a leading African bank that services a diverse client base in South Africa and the rest of Africa, is pursuing a transformation strategy with the Azure cloud platform to enable its digital aspirations. Microsoft has had a long relationship with Nedbank which has culminated in enabling its migration to the cloud to help increase its competitiveness, agility, and customer focus. Azure also provides compliance technologies that assist Nedbank to increase data privacy and security which are primary concerns of its customers, regulators, and investors. Nedbank has adopted a hybrid and multi-vendor cloud strategy in which Microsoft is an integral partner.

The Peace Parks Foundation, in collaboration with Cloudlogic, uses Azure to rapidly deploy infrastructure and solutions in far-flung protected spaces as well as to compute a considerable volume of data around at-risk species and wildlife in multiple conservation areas spanning thousands of kilometers. In efforts to sustain the delicate ecosystem and keystone species, such as the black and white rhinoceros, Peace Parks Foundation processes up to tens of thousands of images captured monthly on wildlife cameras in remote areas to monitor possible poaching activity. In the future, Peace Parks will leverage the new cloud infrastructure for radio over Internet protocol, a high-tech solution to a low-tech problem, to improve radio communication over remote and isolated areas.

eThekwini water is a unit of the eThekwini Municipality in Durban, South Africa responsible for the provision of water and sanitation services critical for sustaining life for 3.5 million residents in a 2,000+ square kilometer service area. In partnership with Cloudlogic, eThekwini water is using Azure for critical application monitoring as well as site failover and disaster recovery initiatives. It’ll benefit from locally delivered cloud services to improve performance of real-time reporting and monitoring of water infrastructure 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Empowering people and organizations across Africa

Microsoft has long been working to support organizations, local start ups, and NGOs in Africa that have the potential to solve some of the biggest problems facing humanity, such as the scarcity of water and food as well as economic and environmental sustainability.

In 2013, we launched Microsoft 4Afrika investing in start-ups, partners, small-to-medium enterprises, governments, and youth on the African continent. The program is focused on delivering affordable access to the Internet, developing skilled workforces, and investing in local technology solutions. Africa has the potential to help lead the technology revolution; therefore, Microsoft is empowering organizations and people to drive economic development, inclusive growth, and digital transformation. 4Afrika is Microsoft’s business and market development engine on the continent, which is preparing the market to embrace cloud technology.

We have also extended FarmBeats, an end-to-end approach to help farmers benefit from technology innovation at the edge, to Nairobi, Kenya. FarmBeats strives to enable data-driven farming as we believe that data, coupled with the farmer’s knowledge and intuition about his or her farm, can help increase farm productivity and reduce costs. The new effort in Nairobi will be focused on addressing the specific challenges of farming in Africa with the intent of expanding to other African countries.

Bringing the complete cloud to Africa

The new cloud regions in Africa are connected with Microsoft’s other regions via our global network, one of the largest and most innovative on the planet, which spans more than 100,000 miles (161,000 kilometers) of terrestrial fiber and subsea cable systems to deliver services to customers. We’ve expanded our network footprint to reach Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa and will be expanding to Angola. Microsoft is bringing the global cloud closer to home for African organizations and citizens through our trans-Arabian paths between India and Europe, as well as our trans-Atlantic systems including Marea, the highest-capacity cable to ever cross the Atlantic.

Azure is the first of Microsoft’s intelligent cloud services to be delivered from the new datacenters in South Africa. Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity solution, is anticipated to be available by the third quarter of calendar year 2019, and Dynamics 365, the next generation of intelligent business applications, is anticipated for the fourth quarter.

Follow these links to learn more about the new cloud services in South Africa and the availability of Azure regions and services across the globe.

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