South African IT firm BCX is to launch an Alibaba cloud region next month.

ITWeb last week reported that BCX, a Telkom company, would be opening Alibaba’s first ‘African local public cloud data center’ in South Africa in October.

– Alibaba

Systems integrator BCX announced a partnership with Alibaba in October 2022. The two parties signed an exclusive distribution contract to grant BCX exclusive rights and authority to distribute Alibaba Cloud’s products and services in South Africa.

BCX told ITWeb Africa that it is currently running tests of the local public data center. The company is now ready to roll out cloud data centers across Africa, beginning with South Africa.

“We mentioned before that we will be partnering with Alibaba. That process is well underway. What we decided was to build [a] local public cloud, and this means unlike a normal cloud, the data resides in the country for things like data sovereignty and security. Also, we can charge in local currency,” said BCX CEO Jonas Bogoshi.

“We are launching on 5 October, [when] the local public cloud will be up and running. We are also working on rolling them out across the continent,” he continued.

As well as Cape Town, another launch in Mozambique has been approved for December, with further expansions being explored in Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia.

It's unclear if the two companies are planning new builds or leasing space in existing data centers, though the latter is more likely given the timeframes mentioned.

“The partnership with Alibaba is working very well and we think it’s going to change BCX going forward,” said Bogoshi. “Not only are we introducing infrastructure services, [but] we are introducing all applications on top of that, including a marketplace for enterprise.”

Derrick Chikanga, research manager for IT services at IDC, told ITWeb: "This will be a major milestone for both Alibaba and BCX, as it will enable them to effectively compete with other hyperscalers, such as AWS and Microsoft, that have local cloud data centers. The local facilities would enable Alibaba to offer its cloud services closer to customers, decreasing latency and meeting data sovereignty requirements.”

In total, Alibaba operates a network of 29 cloud regions and 88 availability zones globally. Outside of China, it has regions across Europe, the US, the Middle East, and APAC. The company currently has no regions on the African continent.

Alibaba announced earlier this year that it was planning a cloud data center for Ankara, Turkey. 2022 saw Alibaba launch data centers in Bangkok, Thailand; Frankfurt, Germany; and Tokyo, Japan.

Alibaba is looking to spin out and list its cloud unit separately from the main parent company, following a unit leadership change earlier this year.

BCX, a subsidiary within Telkom Group, is one of Africa's largest systems integrators. Founded as Business Connexion in 1996, Telkom acquired the company in 2015.