Cloud computing uptake is about to explode in Africa’s major economies, as businesses gain confidence in both the security and reliability of the cloud. This was the key finding of the cloud in Africa: Reality Check 2013 research study, released by World Wide Worx and Cisco.

The study was conducted among a small but representative sample of senior information technology decision-makers in medium-sized and large companies in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

The survey’s key findings include:
* The most significant finding from the study was that, while South Africa currently leads the continent in cloud uptake, it is about to be overtaken – dramatically – by Nigeria.

* In 2013, 50% South African medium and large businesses are using cloud services; while a slightly lower proportion – 48% – are using the cloud in Kenya. Nigeria lag’s substantially behind, with only 36% of businesses there currently using the cloud.

* A significant 44% of Nigerian businesses say they will embrace the cloud in the coming year, bringing the total in that country to 80% by the end of 2014. This compares to 24% of organisations in Kenya and only 16% in South Africa saying they will be taking up cloud.

* The key to the rapid adoption of cloud computing in Nigeria and Kenya can be found in the growing confidence that IT decision-makers have in the environment. Even where confidence is not high, distrust in cloud has almost entirely disappeared.

* The survey showed that 57% of decision-makers across the three countries had high confidence in the security of the cloud, while a further 34% were neutral – meaning they would wait and see, but were not negatively disposed towards it. Only one in 10 respondents did not trust security in the cloud.

* An even higher level of confidence was expressed in the reliability of the cloud: 73% of respondents across the three countries expressed high confidence, while most of the rest – 25% – were neutral on reliability.

* Private cloud is the most popular in 2013 with 25% or organisations surveyed currently deploying this compared to 13% opting for hybrid cloud and only 7% of companies opting for the public cloud. In 2014, this trend is set to continue with 32% of companies opting for the private cloud compared to 18% for hybrid cloud and 16% for public cloud.

* The most popular category for cloud use today is storage (28% of companies) followed by SaaS (10% of companies surveyed).

“cloud computing is the next big step in the evolution of computing and the Internet,” says David Meads, Cisco’s VP for Africa.

“The broadband revolution sweeping Africa and the continent’s reputation for innovation add up to tremendous appetite for services that will drive this evolution. Looking ahead, the Internet of Everything represents the largest online trend today.

“As more people, things and devices connect to the Internet in Africa, more data from more places will be introduced across corporate and service provider networks, which will open up new opportunities and increased demand for the cloud.”

“The fact that no one is expressing doubt about the reliability of the cloud means that the final pieces of the puzzle are falling into place,” says Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx. “Now the cloud becomes real in Africa.”

In the third annual Cisco Global cloud Index (2012 – 2017), Cisco forecasts that global cloud traffic, the fastest growing component of data centre traffic, is expected to grow 4,5-fold – a 35% combined annual growth rate (CAGR) – from 1,2 zettabytes of annual traffic in 2012 to 5,3 zettabytes by 2017.

Approximately 17% of data centre traffic will be fuelled by end users accessing clouds for Web surfing, video streaming, collaboration and connected devices, all of which contribute to the Internet of Everything, which is the networked connection of people, data, process and things.

“People all over the world continue to demand the ability to access personal, business and entertainment content anywhere on any device, and each transaction in a virtualised, cloud environment can cause cascading effects on the network,” said Meads. “Because of this continuing trend, we are seeing huge increases in the amount of cloud traffic globally within, between and beyond data centres over the next four years.”

From a regional perspective, the Cisco Global cloud Index predicts that through 2017, the Middle East and Africa will have the highest cloud traffic growth rate (57% CAGR), followed by Asia Pacific (43% CAGR) and Central and Eastern Europe (36% CAGR).