Government gives update on its cloud policy

  • The Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Mondli Gungubele says that government is finalising its National Cloud and Data policy.
  • The policy, currently still in its draft stage, is aimed at promoting access to cloud services, removing regulatory barriers and ensuring proper cybersecurity practices.
  • There is still no timeline set for when the policy will be finished, but companies like Google and AWS have already committed billions to South Africa’s cloud space.

South Africa’s government says it is working on finalising its national data and cloud policy, meanwhile huge corporations like Google and Amazon have already set their sights on the country’s cloud computing space.

According to Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Mondli Gungubele, the objective of the policy is to improve the environment for the establishment of networks in the country.

The minister’s comments come from a breakaway session on Digital Opportunities in South Africa held at the fifth South Africa Investment Conference in Sandton on Thursday.

He added that the so-called National Data and Cloud Policy “seeks to strengthen the capacity of the State to deliver services to its citizens, ensure informed policy development based on data analytics, as well as promote South Africa’s data sovereignty and the security thereof.”

The policy was opened to public comment on 1st April 2021, but has yet to be enacted into legislation.

According to the current draft of the policy, “there is no policy to guide localised data acquisition, ownership, storage, use and analytics” as most data in the country are largely stored in privately-owned “databases.”

“This is a threat to both national security and social and economic
growth,” the draft says.

Its objectives are to promote access to data and cloud services, remove regulatory barriers, ensure effective cybersecurity, provide “institutional mechanisms” for the governance of data and cloud services, and support the development of SMEs.

Now two years old at this point, the minister did not say how far along the draft is.

Despite this, he says “We are excited about going forward. Google and Amazon Web Services have made huge commitments in terms of data investments and cloud service availability which is going to help us focus with least cost on the innovation space on development of technologies.”

Indeed, last year Google chose South Africa as its first Google Cloud region on the continent as part of an unprecedented $1 billion investment in Africa.

Google’s “Cloud region” entails the construction of facilities in Johannesburg, and Cape Town. By 2030 these facilities will support the creation of more than 40 000 jobs and contribute more than $2.1 billion to South Africa’s GDP.

On Thursday Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced that it allocated R15.6 billion towards building cloud infrastructure in South Africa. AWS added that it plans to invest a further R30.4 billion in the country’s cloud space before 2030.

“The investment already has a ripple effect on numerous local businesses, and has helped establish training and skilling programs for the local workforce, supported community engagement through various initiatives, and created sustainability initiatives across the country,” noted Amrote Abdella, GM for AWS Sub-Saharan Africa.

Gungubele says that government has ambitious targets when it comes to its cloud and data goals, but there is no timeline as of yet for their implementation.

But for the amount of funding tied up between just Google and AWS, the minister should see to the policy’s implementation sooner rather than later in order for more South Africans to benefit, or so the policy aims.

[Source – SA News]

[Image – Photo by Lars Kienle on Unsplash]


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