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251 Telecom, a telecommunications company founded by Addis Alemayehou, has partnered with TouchNet, a South African internet service provider, to bring storage-as-a-service solutions to the Ethiopian market in local currency.

The collaboration, which aims to empower businesses and government agencies with cloud solutions and build a self-sufficient local digital ecosystem, was announced last week and brings several advantages to the market.

According to the partnership, TouchNet will bring its hardware and technology and host it at the Raxio Data Center. Meanwhile, 251 will manage the business operation.

Furthermore, TouchNet has also formed a partnership with Zadara, a U.S. company, to provide the computing, storage, and network resources to avail the service. Zadara is a globally known brand that offers fully managed enterprise-class storage for private and public clouds.

“We have invested in several startups and one of our biggest expenses is cloud services. So, we wanted to solve this problem for startups as well as the average citizen who is running out of space,” Addis Alemayehou, CEO of 251 Telecom, told Shega.

While there are several local web hosting services and Virtual Private Server (VPS) providers, local cloud storage service is unavailable in Ethiopia, except for Ethio Telecom’s Tele Drive designed for mobile devices. Meanwhile, platforms like Google Drive require access to foreign currency and credit cards, which many Ethiopians do not possess.

“Businesses, schools, universities, government agencies, Fintech’s as well as the general public are our target customers,” added Addis.

During an interview with Shega, Charly Babaous, CEO of TouchNet, stated that his company will use its potential to unlock the potential of data and research aiming to help SMEs and others operating in Ethiopia. He added that Ethiopia has a huge market with the second largest population in Africa and an untapped and fresh environment to work in.

TouchNet currently operates in eight African countries, including Ghana, Kenya, and Angola. The company is pleasantly surprised by how fast the demand and need for the service is increasing.

In addition, Zadara has partnered with other cloud storage service providers like Google Drive, AWS, and  Microsoft Azure, enabling users to get the service provided by these companies through the Zadara platform.

One of the key highlights of this collaboration is the establishment of a “mini AWS” cloud, addressing both security and regulatory perspectives. This approach provides businesses in Ethiopia with an opportunity to harness the power of global cloud infrastructure with low latency, bringing all the crucial features and services of VMware and AWS to the local forefront.

Zadara-TouchNet’s Storage-as-a-Service offering comes with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) guaranteeing 99.999% availability on storage.

Addis states that unless there are any customs issues, he expects the services to start operating in 90 days.

Ethiopia has not yet passed its draft law that addresses personal data collection and processing issues. The 251 and Zadara-TouchNet alliance adheres to the Data Policy Framework of the African Union, which provides data governance guidance for Africa’s data market.

According to Abenazzer Bayu, a Cloud Infrastructure Expert, the initiative opens up several opportunities.

“Building on the existing partnership and global license Zadara has, the alliance can bring international services to Ethiopia,” Abenazzer told Shega. “The potential is very big. If Zadara could manage to bring companies like Google and Microsoft to host their cloud-based platforms here, it would bring solutions Google Suite and Microsoft 365 to the Ethiopian market with fees paid in local currency,” he added.

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