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Cape Town, South Africa. (Wikimedia Photo / public domain)

In around a year and a half, Amazon Web Services will open its first cloud computing region in Africa, another sign that demand for cloud computing is spreading throughout the world.

The Cape Town region will be known as AWS Africa, and it is expected to come online in the first half of 2020, said Werner Vogels, Amazon chief technology officer, in a blog post Thursday. The region will have three availability zones, which allow AWS customers to spread their downtime risk across several distinct buildings within a computing region.

Microsoft Azure’s cloud services will beat AWS to Africa, after data centers in Cape Town and Johannesburg announced last year get up and running later this year. But Vogels noted that AWS has been on the continent for several years, with development centers in South Africa that actually built many of the key services within AWS, including the fundamental EC2 computing service. AWS also maintains infrastructure for its Amazon Cloudfront content-delivery network in the two South African cities.

The new region will allow African startups and businesses to offer much better performance for their end users, given that they’ll no longer have to work out of a data center located on another continent. AWS has also announced plans to bring a cloud computing region to Bahrain in early 2019, while Microsoft will enter the Middle East through Abu Dhabi and Dubai next year.

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