Amazon.com Inc is expanding its empire to encompass Cape Town, which is now being viewed as a “tech hub” of the country. This will higher the stakes in this cloud giant’s rivalry with Microsoft Corp.
The company has been advertising dozens of job vacancies in Cape Town, with its new eight-story building nearing completion.
One of the adverts include a vacancy for a software developer. Amazon is also looking to assemble a team for a “green-field project” – this deals with machine learning, big data analysis and cloud computing.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the world’s leaders in cloud computing, owning 32% of the market. By comparison, Microsoft has been growing faster, but dominates only 16% of the market.
The global cloud infrastructure services market was worth nearly $55-billion by 2017, and is only expected to exceed $155-billion by 2020.
AWS accounted for 73% of Amazon’s $1,9-billion operating profit in the first financial quarter, but just 11% of its total revenue.
Amazon’s Cape Town building is expected to be complete by August, but the cloud giant has still not alluded to what the function of this building will be.
“As more South African customers and partners continue to choose AWS as their cloud provider we continue to hire more staff into our offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg,” Geoff Brown, AWS’ Sub-Saharan Africa regional manager told Reuters.
Although it is difficult to measure the relative success of Africa’s cloud-computing players, data analysts have pegged data centres as one measure of growth.
Amazon has yet to build a data centre in Africa. Microsoft, however, has. These include centres that will launch in Cape Town and Johannesburg later this year.
Microsoft has not yet informed the public on when exactly its data centres will be operational.
Brown said Amazon may be looking at opening a data centre in South Africa, but that it was only “one of many possibilities”.
He added that the company has launched new “Edge” locations – infrastructure that boosts transmission speeds from primary data centres outside the continent – in both Johannesburg and Cape Town over the past two months.
More famous for its beautiful beaches than as a tech hub, Cape Town has approximately 35 000 people employed in the sector. This is according to Wesgro, Cape Town’s trade and investment agency.
The city also boasts one of the largest publicly available fibre optic networks in Africa.