This year has marked an important milestone in the development of telco cloud market strategies in Africa and the Middle East (AME), as the first regional presence was opened by Microsoft in South Africa and the UAE as well as AWS in Bahrain. 

Microsoft further announced plans to establish a cloud datacentre in Qatar in 2021.

Historically, major AME telcos started offering enterprise cloud computing solutions as early as 2011-2013. Then, after a wave of investments geared towards data centres establishment, improvement and expansion, telcos started strengthening their cloud offerings focusing on expanding their portfolios through partnerships with leading market players in the IaaS and SaaS spaces.

These partnerships enabled telcos to enhance their value propositions. For example, active in African markets, MTN and Liquid Telecom have been partnering with Microsoft. In the Middle East, Microsoft cooperates with operators like Ooredoo and Etisalat. However, until recently, these global hyper-scale cloud providers not physically present with their infrastructure in the region.

In 2019, global cloud providers became present in the Middle East, with the first data centres opened by Microsoft in the UAE (partnership with Etisalat) and by AWS in Bahrain (partnership with Batelco). Before, cloud services from these global providers were provided through data centres located outside of the region, which could hamper adoption where low-latency and data-residency are important requirements.

Now, telcos that have partnered with global cloud providers can start entering the next wave of their go-to-market approach and play a more active role in connectivity, consulting, and the management of locally accessible cloud services. Local residency of data may significantly accelerate the migration of government services to the cloud and support public initiatives involving sensitive and personal data (e.g., smart city projects).

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