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Agile Computing: Article

OpenStack Enables the "AWS of Africa"

Kili Launched in Kenya To Serve a Variety of Customers

Adam Nelson (@varud) is working with OpenStack to develop Kili, a public cloud for Kenya and other African nations. "Kili lets local developers be local," as he explains. Kili offers compute services for as little as the equivalent of US$.02 per hour and storage at US$.08 per gigabyte per month.

Despite his enthusiasm for the project and its prospects, Adam did note there can be "extremely little capital available for serious startups in Africa," making it difficult to realize all of one's vision and plans. But as we approach @CloudExpo in Santa Clara Nov 4-6, it seemed like a good time to find out what's going on with Kili and its relevance for all of us.

Cloud Computing Journal: Please describe your idea and how you do it. Are you the "AWS of Kenya?"

Adam Nelson: We run cloud infrastructure-IaaS-in East Africa, so yes, we definitely consider ourselves the "AWS of Kenya".

CCJ: How did your journey to this project and destination evolve?

Adam: Before coming to Kenya, I was an early adopter and heavy user of AWS at various New York-based startups. We spent up to $25k/month on it.

When I then traveled to Kenya, I noticed very quickly upon arriving that there was a giant hole when it comes to cloud infrastructure--in Africa generally as well. So we see an amazing opportunity to get ahead of the curve and become the platform of choice for the coming generation of African tech startups-all of which need local infrastructure.

In addition, for global companies attempting to enter African markets, Kili complements the AWS offering and allows those groups to pay for local compute and storage capacity simply by using their credit card.

With local capacity, end-user uptime is higher and latency is typically 90% lower than if the server were located in Europe or the US. Those groups can use Kili but don't have to leave AWS for the rest of their global footprint.

CCJ: So you're reaching a variety of customers.

Adam: Yes, we reach a variety of startups and SMEs with a technology capacity. Government is another sector we're focused on, but the sales cycle in that sector is quite long. We only went live with the beta in April so we have a ways to go.

CCJ: What sort of growth for cloud services do you see in Kenya and the region?

Adam: We have customers from Uganda and Kenya and hope to get some from Rwanda and Tanzania soon. Continent-wide expansion is the obvious next step and it's when Kili has multiple regions that it will really shine.

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More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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