Amazon Web Services to invest R365m in supporting black tech small businesses

Amazon Web Services, the cloud computing subsidiary of global technology giant Amazon, announced on Monday that it would launch a R365m investment in black-owned cloud computing businesses in South Africa through an equity equivalent investment programme.

The equity equivalent programme is an initiative of the Department of Trade and Industry aimed at allowing multinational companies to take part in the development of local black-owned small businesses and contribute towards the broad-based black economic empowerment of South Africa.

The programme will target 100% black-owned small, medum and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in the information communications technology sector as well as provide them with cloud computing support and expertise. The seven-year programme will also support growth in machine learning and mobile technologies.

"The Amazon Web Services equity equivalent investment programme will see over R365m invested in the development of sustainable 100% black-owned South African small businesses within the ICT sector, supporting them to become cloud computing experts using the AWS Partner Network," the statement said.

Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel said the programme would develop highly skilled jobs in the local economy and give the black-owned small businesses the knowledge, resources, as well as the skills to be successful.

"This will enable them to provide professional services to organisations in both the private and public sectors, supporting them with their ICT strategy and helping them to take advantage of cloud computing and other digital technologies in order to innovate and grow," said Patel.

He said with the assistance of the equity equivalent programme, the department would seek to develop local businesses and ensure net job creation in the South African economy.

Amazon Web Services South Africa director Prabashni Naidoo said high quality of technical talent existed in South Africa, which the company was excited to locate and support.

"Through this new programme, we are committed to producing a new generation of highly skilled and productive black-owned South African small businesses. These new APN Partners will help create limitless opportunities for our customers, helping them to innovate and further contribute to the economic growth of South Africa," said Naidoo.

The programme is expected to support the black-owned SMMEs through an 18 to 24-month enterprise development and incubation programme.

Compiled by Khulekani Magubane

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