AfDB, COMESA Sign US$550,000 Grant to Conduct Study on Developing Africa Cloud Ecosystem

Lusaka, Zambia, Thursday, 14 July 2022: The African Development Bank and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) have signed a Letter of Agreement for a US$550,000 NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility grant to support a feasibility study for setting up an Africa Cloud Ecosystem (ACE) project.

The grant will support the first phase; Market Analysis (Pre-investment study) which will assess the market for the ACE project and examine the bankability of the project including testing of the concept in the COMESA region.

The agreement was signed by the AfDB Zambia, Country Manager, Dr. Raubil Durowoju (pictured right) and COMESA Assistant Secretary General, Dr Kipyego Cheluget (left) on behalf of Secretary General, Chileshe Kapwepwe, at the COMESA Secretariat in Lusaka, Wednesday,13 July 2022.

“The Africa Cloud Ecosystem project will be a first of its kind, laying the foundation to facilitate the African continent to undertake this shift in the key sectors of economy, education, government, agriculture and health through the provision of a reliable ecosystem of datacentres,” Dr Durowoju said.

He described the project as a pioneer of big data in Africa and a marketplace for governments to request for information from all industries such as public transportation management, retail, transaction data among others.

The study will take 12 months and will be originated as a continental program focusing on COMESA Member States as a pilot.

Appreciating the AfDB-NEPAD-IPPF for the support, Ms Kapwepwe said the project was a priority for COMESA owing to its potential to reduce the cost of doing business and enhance competitiveness by fostering regional connectivity and deepening continental integration:

“Most African countries are still constrained for lack of critical ICT infrastructure including low broadband penetration of about 10 percent and small leveraged power capacity along with high cost of hosting services,” she said.

Noting that most of African data storages are hosted outside the continent, Ms Kapwepwe said the ACE project will lay the foundation in the provision of a premium facility mainly powered with efficient and clean energy that is affordable, secured, reliable, fast cloud hosting system for Africa.

The ACE project is also expected to facilitate regional integration by taking full advantage of technologies and setting up the foundations of a duty free, quota-free area which goes beyond the data-only aspects. Its development is also expected to increase the sustainability and viability of information and provide a pivotal way of transitioning Africa’s community into a digital economic community.

Besides significantly lowering the cost for hosting services, identified as a main reason for African business to host their services overseas, the project will also remove barriers faced by African enterprises by promoting intra-regional trade and boost innovation.