By Jan Bouwer, Chief of Digital Platform Solutions at BCX
The digital era has opened new vistas for individuals and businesses with cloud computing being a critical driver of digital transformation. But as with everything, there is a downside to cloud technology, the biggest threat being security. Every business, big or small, and every individual using the cloud and digital products is at risk of being hacked. It is estimated that cybercrime will cost the global economy around $10.5 billion and new threats are emerging all the time. Ransomware attacks have increased by about 435% year-on-year and new viruses/malware are emerging every seven seconds. This equates to a million new variants every day!
It was against this background that the Cloud and Security Conference 2023 was held at Johannesburg’s Melrose Arch recently. BCX was the main sponsor of the conference, a company that’s at the forefront of providing cloud computing solutions in South Africa. The conference was supported by leading names in cyber technology and security such as Liquid C2, VMware, CipherWave, Wipro, Microsoft, and Vodacom Business. And it was comforting to learn from the experts that while criminals are always finding new ways to hack and steal data, many of these companies are at the forefront of ensuring cybersecurity for their clients.
Jan Bouwer, Chief of Digital Platform Solutions at BCX, shared some insights into the challenges facing cloud technology and the pioneering solutions offered by his company. He said that BCX was “reimagining trust” to ensure cloud security for its clients and sketched the scenario against which cloud technology and cybersecurity were developing.
Bouwer said Africa with its burgeoning population was, “the new frontier for digital connectivity. By 2030, one in every five people on the globe will be from Africa where 90% of the people have access to mobile technology even though ⅔ of them don’t have proper sanitation or water.”
Infrastructure investment in the internet on the continent is high, but 1000 megawatts of data centre capabilities are needed to bring Africa on par with our data centre capacity in South Africa.
“In terms of e-commerce, of the five billion global users, 445 million are from Africa. By 2025 about 40% of the African population will have e-commerce engagements. The banking sector is playing an important role in bringing together business and individuals (retail customers) and they do it through the establishment of online Marketplaces and Super Apps,” Bouwer said.
According to the Gini coefficient, South Africa is the most unequal society in the world. Bearing this in mind, Bouwer said, cloud technology can potentially play an important role in socio-economic development in sectors such as health and education. Full cloud capacity can also help in combating corruption. Bouwer said that despite the country having scored some “own goals” politically, cloud investment in South Africa remained promising. The country’s high adoption of mobile broadband and the fact that Africa’s mobile users access the internet at a 17% higher rate than the rest of the world will be key drivers for the growth of cloud capabilities on the continent. However, the high cost of infrastructure and return on investment are among the challenges facing investors both in South Africa and the continent at large.
Touching on BCX’s role, Bouwer said: “We are among the biggest ICT providers in South Africa and we have made significant investments in cloud capabilities over the last 24 months, allowing us to provide to clients a suite of cyber security services and end-to-end cloud solutions at any stage of the customer’s cloud journey.”
BCX has a presence in five African countries and is extending its footprint further into the continent. The company offers agnostic cloud consultancy advisory services, cloud architecture and engineering services as well as cloud-managed services across various hyperscalers and private cloud platforms.
Adding clout to BXC’s offerings are its ground-breaking exclusive partnership with Alibaba Cloud which the company is leveraging to support enterprise and small businesses on the African continent. “We’ve already appointed five resellers for the distribution of Alibaba Cloud products, and more are to come,” Bouwer said, adding that empowering small businesses was one of the core missions of the company.
BCX has also partnered with other key players in the internet/digital/cloud space such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Huawei Cloud which enables the company to offer the latest, most cost-effective, and secure cloud solutions to its customers.
“BCX is transforming its cloud capabilities with strategic international partners; we are truly local but offer services across the ICT sector globally and are serious players in the cloud security space,” he said. This is underlined by the fact that the company has a separate division to deal with cloud services and offers advice on day-to-day security as well as on what to do in the event of a cyber-attack.
Bouwer was upbeat about the future because of the potential of young people on the continent and the country, saying: “We have so much innovation in young people, we just have to harness it.” He pointed to Zulzi, an e-commerce platform founded by Vutlharhi “Donald” Valoyi to sell books and electronics which has grown into an online powerhouse supporting the Checkers’ Sixty60 service, as an example of the kind of innovation present among young South Africans.
Clearly, the sky is the limit for Cloud technology and BCX which is at the heart of leveraging Cloud’s enormous potential.