Daniel Kamau| Hispanicbusiness
The software piracy rate in Africa is as high as 80 per cent, according to the latest Business Software Alliance (BSA) figures. This places many businesses across the continent at risk, costing them millions of dollars every year in system malfunctions, security breaches and shutdowns.
The conundrum is that many businesses and particularly Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across Africa cannot afford the high cost of good software, which helps to protect their ideas and the intellectual property behind the success of the business.
Purchasing and upgrading properly licensed software can make up 80 per cent of a business’s IT spend, and one of the biggest challenges SMEs face in today’s harsh economic conditions is finding technology that meets their needs without breaking the bank.
‘Cloud computing’ is taking the continent by storm and is literally changing the way businesses and individuals access technology.
As broadband availability in Africa has increased, driving data costs down, cloud computing has become a huge shaper of the way people communicate and conduct business on the continent.
Cloud means that instead of relying on expensive IT infrastructure and hardware, everything can be hosted and managed online, or, in the cloud – from storing data, managing servers, and accessing applications and software.
The immediate cost benefits are huge, especially for SMEs that often don’t have the capital for IT infrastructure investment.
Additionally, moving to the cloud offers savings that come from different and flexible software pricing models. One such pricing model is software-as-a-services a model whereby cloud customers can buy access to software and applications as they need them.
Instead of paying for all your software up front, including more capacity than might be necessary right away, software is ‘rented’ in the sense that users only pay for what they use, as they use it – ‘pay as you go’ as it were. This can save customers up to 20 per cent of their software budget, without them having to compromise on quality.
What’s more, running software online means access to automatic updates and patches, which is more cost-effective than having to buy and install a whole new programme. This also lowers IT costs as the latest version of software is always available without the need for IT support.
Cloud computing has the potential to transform the region. It enables global growth for businesses and provides an alternative to piracy in emerging markets where SMEs are seeking to engage the economy in spite of a lack of traditional infrastructure.