Microsoft has announced that it has opened the first data centres in Africa, with the general availability of their cloud service Azure. The new data centres are located in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa.

Azure is the first of Microsoft’s cloud services to be delivered from the new datacentres in South Africa. Office 365, a cloud-based productivity solution, is anticipated to be available by the third quarter of calendar year 2019, while Dynamics 365, the next generation of intelligent business applications, is anticipated in the fourth quarter.

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service created by Microsoft for building, testing, deploying, and managing applications and services through Microsoft-managed data centers. It provides software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and supports many different programming languages, tools and frameworks. It was announced in October 2008, and released on February 1, 2010, as “Windows Azure” before being renamed “Microsoft Azure” on March 25, 2014.

Microsoft is an American technology company that develops and sells computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, cloud services and related services. It has a 30 year history in Africa with over 10,000 local partners. In 2013, Microsoft launched its continent-wide 4Afrika Initiative, where it has been working with governments, partners, start-ups and youth to develop more affordable access to the internet. Most recently, this included a partnership with FirstBank Nigeria to expand cloud services and digital educational platforms to SME customers. In Kenya, Microsoft is expanding FarmBeats, an end-to-end approach to help farmers benefit from technology. It has also established a network of more than 800 Microsoft Imagine Academies across Africa, offering students of various age groups direct training in the technology field. In partnership with the African Development Bank, Microsoft is also rolling out `Coding for Employment` to create more than 25 million jobs and reach 50 million youth and women across Africa.