Amazon Web Services has released a new economic impact study (EIS) announcing its plan to invest $1.6 billion in its cloud infrastructure in South Africa by 2029. The EIS report outlines AWS’s investment in its AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region since 2018, and projected forecast of investment to construct, operate, and maintain its cloud infrastructure in South Africa.
In total, AWS estimates it will invest $2.5 billion between 2018-2029. The report indicates AWS’s investment from 2018-2029 will contribute an estimated $4.4 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) of South Africa and support an estimated average of more than 5,700 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs at local South African businesses on an annual basis.
“AWS had long been committed to South Africa and this infrastructure investment adds to our ongoing local story, where one of our foundational capabilities – Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) – was developed by engineers in Cape Town back in 2006,” said Amrote Abdella, General Manager, AWS Sub Saharan Africa. “This report illustrates our ongoing commitment to invest in South Africa and support demand for our world-class technology from customers here and around the world. The investment already has a ripple effect on numerous local businesses and has helped establish training and skilling programs for the local workforce, supported community engagement through various initiatives, and created sustainability initiatives across the country.”
From 2018 through 2022, AWS says it has invested approximately $855,0000 million, which includes all cash expenses directly attributable to the AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region, such as imports of highly specialized and proprietary equipment and software, and in-country spending. This has resulted in an estimated $657,000 approximately in local GDP contributed by this AWS Region.
Local spending includes capital expenditures on construction labour, materials, and services, as well as recurring operating expenditures on employee and contractor compensation, utility fees, and facilities costs. AWS investment supports an estimated annual average of more than 5,700 FTE jobs at local vendors in the South African data centre supply chain, including telecommunications, nonresidential construction, electricity generation, facilities maintenance, and data centre operations.
The ripple effect of this investment has allowed AWS to make demonstrable differences and lasting impacts in communities around the world where it builds and operates its data centres. This includes AWS InCommunities, which provides students and families with initiatives in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM), local tech upskilling, environmental stewardship, and employee engagement.
AWS works with higher education institutions in South Africa, including Durban University of Technology, Stellenbosch University, and the University of Cape Town to help prepare the country’s future workforce. Programs like AWS Academy, AWS Educate, and AWS re/Start help with job training across the country. Moreover, AWS is committed to supporting the digital literacy goals set out in South Africa’s “National Digital and Future Skills Strategy” through innovative workforce development programs.
Amazon says it is committed to becoming a more sustainable business and reaching net-zero carbon across its operations by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement, as part of The Climate Pledge. Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge and became its first signatory in 2019. Today, more than 400 organizations spanning 55 industries and 35 countries have signed the Pledge.
Amazon is the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy and is on the path to powering its operations with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of its original target. In South Africa, AWS launched its first operational solar project in 2021 which contributes renewable energy to the electricity grid. The solar plant is expected to generate up to 28,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of renewable energy per year, which equals the annual average household electricity consumption of over 8,000 South African homes. The solar plant is majority-owned by black women and operated by a fully South African-owned company.