Microsoft announced its first data centers in Africa, with the general availability of their cloud service Azure. Moreover, Microsoft becomes the first public cloud provider to deliver cloud services in Africa. 

Since 2013 Microsoft has been investing in Africa, with for instance its 4Afrika initiative – where Microsoft is working with governments, partners, start-ups and youth to develop more affordable access to the internet and locally relevant technology. Furthermore, Microsoft over the years expanded their datacenters in every continent, including now Africa – with two new data centers in Cape Town and Johannesburg (South-Africa).

 
Source: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/microsoft-opens-first-datacenters-in-africa-with-general-availability-of-microsoft-azure/

Currently, Microsoft will offer Azure from these datacenters. Tom Keane, corporate vice president, Azure Global, Microsoft Azure, stated in the blog post on the announcement that:

Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity solution, is anticipated to be available by the third quarter of calendar year 2019, and Dynamics 365, the next generation of intelligent business applications, is anticipated for the fourth quarter.

With the new regions, Microsoft also expanded its network footprint to reach Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa and will be extending it to Angola soon. Furthermore, through the delivery of Marea, a high-capacity transatlantic cable, and the paths between India and Europe Microsoft can provide cloud services to every business anywhere on the continent. Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice-president of Azure networking at Microsoft, said in a Microsoft press release:

The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa will increase economic opportunity for organisations in Africa, as well as connect businesses across the globe through improved access to cloud and internet services. In addition, the availability of Microsoft’s cloud services delivered from Africa will mean local companies can securely and reliably move their businesses to the cloud while meeting compliance requirements.

With 54 regions Microsoft is ahead of its competition with other global public cloud vendors such as Amazon, Google, IBM, and Alibaba – each of them also continue expanding by opening more regions and availability zones. For instance, Amazon added another region in Europe (Stockholm) last December. Furthermore, Alibaba expanded their presence in Europe too with the addition of two new availability zones in the United Kingdom.

Regions and availability zones of the five biggest cloud providers by the number of regions
Cloud Provider Regions Availability Zones
Microsoft                       54                                   24
Amazon                       20                                   61
Google                       19                                   58
Alibaba                       19                                   52
IBM                        6                                   21

More details of the data centers in South-Africa are available on the website.