How African Engineers Invented The Future of Amazon

How African Engineers Invented The Future of Amazon

Amazon has about 7,000 workers in South Africa, and South African engineers actually built the fundamental technology upon which the future of Amazon rests: Amazon Web Services (AWS).  The pioneering technology which made AWS possible – the elastic compute cloud (EC2) – was invented in South Africa. The incoming CEO of Amazon, Andy Jassy, said it brilliantly in 2018: “Having built the original version of Amazon EC2 in our Cape Town development center 14 years ago, and with thousands of African companies using AWS for years, we’ve been able to witness first-hand the technical talent and potential in Africa.” 

The new region is the latest in a series of AWS investments in South Africa. In 2004, Amazon opened a development center in Cape Town that focuses on building pioneering networking technologies, next generation software for customer support, and the technology behind Amazon EC2. AWS has also built a number of local teams including account managers, customer services representatives, partner managers, solutions architects, and more to help customers of all sizes as they move to the cloud. In 2015, AWS opened an office in Johannesburg, and in 2017 brought the Amazon Global Network to Africa through AWS Direct Connect. In May of 2018, AWS continued its investment in South Africa, launching infrastructure points of presence in Cape Town and Johannesburg, bringing Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Route 53, AWS Shield, and AWS WAF to the continent and adding to the 138 points of presence AWS has around the world

Simply, the technology which powers more than 50% of Amazon’s operating profit was invented in sub-Saharan Africa.  Expect Microsoft, Google and Facebook, to repeat this type of testimony in the next coming years as they invest in the best of African talents.

What does that tell us? Talent is everywhere. Like when people begin to compare Nigeria and India, Kenya and China, etc, I try to remind them thus: India is bigger than all the black races combined in population. If you check US data, per capita, Nigeria produces more doctors in the US than India. Nigeria produces more sport-people per capita than either India or China. Also, even in engineering & science, if you use per capita, we are not far. 

India is 7x the population of Nigeria and that means, per capita, one Nigerian doctor should be equivalent to 7 Indian doctors in the United States, and I do not think India has that ratio over Nigeria.

India is 7x the population of Nigeria and that means, per capita, one Nigerian doctor should be equivalent to 7 Indian doctors in the United States, and I do not think India has that ratio over Nigeria. The same applies to science & engineering. Largely, Nigeria is outperforming most nations OUTSIDE its shores – and that is a big paralysis which must be addressed by political leadership.

In other words, where we do lack seriously is here: the brilliance of Nigerian diaspora has not affected their native country, unlike what India, China, Taiwan, etc have done. But on pure making America greater, Nigeria, per capita, is outperforming. Our challenge as a continent is to fix that disconnect and advance the wellbeing of the home continent.

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