There is no gainsaying the fact that the development of computers and the internet is a major springboard and driver of technological advancements such as Cloud services. The role of cloud services in modern Sierra Leone cannot be overemphasized. From academia to music, business, e-commerce, entertainment, banking, telecommunication, etc, these services impact our everyday lives economically and socially. According to NATCOM, there were 2.39 (29.7%) million internet users in Sierra Leone in January 2021.
Given the role these services play almost in everything we do, it is safe to note here that the life of the everyday internet user in Sierra Leone is hugely dependent on cloud services. In this article, discussion will be based on the role of cloud services in modern Sierra Leone with primacy on Software as a service (SaaS) and its benefits to Sierra Leone. But before delving deeper, you may want to ask the following questions:
- What are cloud services?
- What are the different types of cloud services?
- Where do internet providers fit in all of this?
What are cloud services?
On the one hand, a cloud, in computer terms is defined as a vast global network of remote servers that are hooked together in order to operate as a single ecosystem. On the other hand, a service is a software that performs automated tasks. Therefore, according to www.citrix.com, the term “Cloud service” refers to “a wide range of services delivered on demand to companies and customers over the internet. These services are designed to provide easy and affordable access to applications and resources, without the need for internal infrastructure or hardware.”
What are the different types of Cloud Services?
According to blog.hubspot.com, Cloud services have been categorized into three main models:
PaaS: The acronym “PaaS” simply refers to Platform as a Service. This enables developers to create and own online custom applications. Example, Facebook, Supfrica (www.supfrica.com ), etc.
SaaS: This has been used to mean Software as a Service and it describes cloud-based software that is hosted online by a company –which is available for purchase and is delivered to consumers on a subscription basis over the internet. Unlike PaaS, SaaS does not allow third parties to create online applications; rather it enables users to use a particular service without owning anything. Examples, DocuSign, Dropbox, etc.
IaaS: The abbreviation “IaaS” refers to Infrastructure as a Service. This model of cloud service delivers product or services to end users over the web. Unlike other cloud services such as PaaS, Infrastructure as a service does not necessarily require manual installation for it to operate; rather it is an automated service. Examples, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, etc.
Where do internet providers fit in all of this?
Internet providers especially mobile companies are very crutial in ensuring that the cloud service space thrives smoothly, in order for businesses to function effectively. This fact cannot be gainsaid, because the internet is the source that powers the cloud service space and the economy –which means that without a reliable and affordable internet, there will be no cloud service –this in turn will impede the viability of businesses, more especially the banking and e-commerce industries which power the economy. Providing affordable and reliable internet service does not only mean helping individuals, but the economy and the country as a whole.
The role of cloud services to consumers and businesses in Sierra Leone
As discussed in the preceding paragraph, the role of cloud services in Sierra Leone cannot be overstated. From the banking, e-commerce, education, business, entertainment, communication, and sports sectors; these services positively impact our everyday lives economically and socially. For the purpose of this article, the following are some of the important roles of cloud services in Sierra Leone:
- They enable businesses, institutions, and industries such as banking and e-commerce to function effectively and efficiently;
- They help produce results and increase productivity;
- They provide a secured technological ecosystem for the storing and extracting of data over the internet;
- Cloud services enable businesses to provide reliable services that meet the needs of consumers/end-users;
- They provide solutions to technological problems that affect the everyday life of consumers;
- Through PaaS such as Facebook, twitter, instagram, etc, cloud services enable Sierra Leoneans to network with other people around the globe;
- They enhance communication and dissemination of technological advancement around the world;
- The enable academic and scientific research
- They provide convenience and easy in business transactions and management;
- They power telecommunications to function with convenience and speed.
Are there local software developers or companies who offer Software services in Sierra Leone?
Of course, there are software developers and companies which offer Software as a Service (SaaS) in Sierra Leone. In the words of Lennox Kamara, CEO of E-Solutions Limited, who developed mmtu.edu.sl -a University Management system for Milton Margai University of Science and Technology: “we might not have at the moment, the subject matter expertise in comparison to countries like America, India or the United Kingdom, but with the right infrastructure in place, it is just a matter of time. This presents a glimmer of hope for the future of Software as a Service in Sierra Leone. Among the ones we have, below are a few examples that deserve mentioning:
- Techfrica LLC
- SISCO Sierra Leone
- E-Solution Limited
- BAAJA Technologies LLC
Techfrica LLC: Techfrica is a Sierra Leonean technology Company (techfrica.com) that provides Software as a Service (SaaS) to be used by all. Established by a Sierra Leonean, Techfrica goes beyond providing SaaS to include Platform as a service (PaaS) and some of its platforms include: Audiofrica (www.audiofrica.com)–an entertainment application which works like Spotify; Supfrica (www.supfrica.com) –a messenger platform which works like Whatsapp; Marketfrica -a software service which works like eBay or 247bigmarket; and appsfrica –an online cloud space which works like, Google Play Store or Appstore. Check them out on www.techfrica.com .
SISCO Limited: Based in Sierra Leone with its headquarters in Freetown and branches across the country, SISCO is a Sierra Leonean company which provides Software as a Service to business and institutions across much of Sierra Leone. As a major enhancer of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to global standards, the company has over the years ensured a robust digital ecosystem through its services such as siscobox (www.siscobox.sl) that is equipped for the future – and with the infrastructure can meet customers’ demands of intelligence and cloud scalability.
E-Solution Limited: As the name suggests, E-Solutions (www.esolutions.com ) is a software developing company. From building websites to database, the company provides solutions to electronic or technological problems that affect the viability of private businesses as well as MDAs of government.
CJ-Bem: CJ BEm (www.cjbem.sl ) is a Sierra Leonean software company based in Freetown Sierra Leone. One of its software (CJ BEm) provides business management with inventory/stock recording solutions for businesses and institutions across Sierra Leone. Even though it is still at its baby steps, the company is slowly gaining grounds within the business industry.
BAAJA Technologies LLC: BAAJA Technologies LLC is a Sierra Leonean company that puts primacy on providing solutions to companies through Software as a Service. Examples of its services include 247bigmarket.com and 247topup.com. Both of this sister software provide solutions to existing problems in Sierra Leone. On the one hand, the former www.247bigmarket.com provides a software service, which enables end-users to buy and sell products over the internet, whilst the latter, 247topup.com–a service that allows Sierra Leoneans overseas to directly send top-up or internet data to their loved ones in Sierra Leone. It is also important to note that BAAJA Technologies LLC is the first Sierra Leonean owned company that provides technology service to multiple countries in Africa through the 247topup web and mobile app (available in app stores)
What opportunities ae available within the SaaS Model for Sierra Leone?
Software as a Service (SaaS) presents a plethora of opportunities that could help boost the economy if exploited effectively. See examples below:
Job Opportunities: SaaS could help boost the economy in terms of employment. Given that developers always look out for opportunities to enhance or better their software products which brings about new versions, suffice it to say that there is never a finished software product –and this process of maintenance more often than not opens a window for job creation. In the case of Sierra Leone, this could be a window where government can tap into by setting up an initiative to attract Sierra Leonean developers at home and abroad to develop software to be used within Sierra Leone. This in turn will mitigate the issues of unemployment a lot more.
Financial growth: Another Benefit of SaaS to Sierra Leone is financial growth. Designing software initiatives encourages developers to build more software, which can be exported to other African countries in exchange for money consideration. Needless to note here, that this could be a lucrative financial window for Sierra Leone to make more money and grow its economy. What this means in essence is that, we would no longer rely only on our natural resources as a means of financial growth as a country, but rather explore a new path for financial growth.
Independence from foreign software products: In addition to that, the development of more software’s by Sierra Leone developers is of extreme importance to in terms of reducing our dependence on foreign software products. Take for instance, many private institutions and businesses including Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) of government use QuickBooks for accounting purposes. Sadly, we depend so much on foreign products to an extent that we refuse to exploit the opportunities local software developers have to offer. It is but necessary to note here, that the more software’s we develop and use the more we help boost the economy in many regards.
Is there any glimmer of hope for the future of Cloud services, especially SaaS in Sierra Leone?
Without any shred of doubt, the future holds so much for the cloud services space in Sierra Leone despite lacking in good infrastructure and the prevalence of interrupted electricity. Even though the number of developers and companies in that regard is still minute in comparison to developed countries, the growing demand for cloud services could be a major catalyst for development of more cloud services be it PaaS, IaaS or SaaS in Sierra Leone. This could see the establishment of Cloud Service institutions and perhaps including Cloud service in our education curriculum. On a more homely note, cloud services will always be of huge relevance as long as humans exist on the face of the earth and technology continues to evolve. To that end, visit one of our vendor pages to shop and experience unparalleled Software Service created with your family in mind.