Cloud computing

How cloud computing boosts SME growth in Kenya

With the growth in mobile devices, decreasing bandwidth costs and more international vendors and local service providers offering a variety of new services, cloud computing is the next great frontier in Africa.

In 2013, 48% of SMEs in Kenya were using cloud computing and new analysis, from Frost & Sullivan, reveals that the overall cloud computing market in South Africa and Kenya will reach revenues of US$288 million in 2018.

SME’s, which are estimated to contribute 45% to Kenya’s economy, are well positioned to benefit from the cloud because of its low cost, but many have been slow to implement this new technology. So why the reluctance to adopt cloud technology, and why is it essential to build confidence in this technology?


In simple terms, cloud computing involves storing, processing and accessing data and programs over the internet rather than on local computers or servers.

Cloud negates the need for large upfront investments in on-premise solutions. Instead, you only need to pay for what you need, when you need it. This means scalability and steady growth.

The cloud also gives businesses of any size access to a flexible, scalable and affordable choice of productivity apps, traditionally reserved for large multi-nationals. This enables entrepreneurs to collaborate and work remotely – levelling the playing field in terms of their operational efficiency and productivity. SMEs and their employees are realizing that their competitive advantage comes from what they do with technology in and out of the office.

Mobility and the cloud are more than technologies – they represent the potential to change how we approach both work and leisure, in ways that can bring more control over where, when and how long we work and have fun.

Cloud Azure

Kenyan entrepreneur, Felix Musau, developed his entire business model around the cloud. Using Microsoft’s cloud platform, Azure, he is able to offer payment, loan and remitance solutions via mobile phones.

empowering farmers through the cloud
empowering farmers through the cloud

His flagship solution, AgriLife, uses a cloud-based data collection and analysis system to gather vital information from farmers, enabling them to build a credit history via their mobile phones, as many are unbanked. The cloud connects them to payment and settlement mechanisms between agricultural financiers and markets.  This gives the farmer easier access to affordable credit. “The impact has been huge, with farmers able to acces financing and other necessary services to grow their business,” says Felix Musau.

The Cloud is your friend

Kenya's National Broadband Plan
Kenya’s National Broadband Plan

Despite these evident benefits, SMEs in Kenya have been slow to embrace the cloud. This is primarily because of perceived fears.

One of these fears is that of losing access to data or services. This concern is rendered null by virtue of trends. Developing countries are adopting national broadband plans to direct their economies towards becoming knowledge-based.

Kenya is not left out in this. In line with Vision 2030, Kenya launched a National Broadband Strategy in July 2013.

Another concern is security. However, cloud servers have access to the latest security patches. These cannot be afforded by a single SME.

Any business that switches to enjoy cloud services, such as those provided by Microsoft, tap into affordable World Class security and data protection mechanisms.