Telling empowering stories, South Africans want to hear

Wednesday, 16 August 2023 22:00

First international AWS Skills Center opens in South Africa.

Tech Reporter.

Amazon Web Services has launched its third AWS Skills Center globally – and the first outside the US – and the company chose Cape Town, South Africa for the facility.

The skills centre is a dedicated, in-person learning space "designed for anyone who is curious about cloud computing and career possibilities in the industry", AWS said in a statement on Wednesday.

The only other AWS Skills Centers are in the US: in Seattle, Washington and Arlington, Virginia.

"Anyone in the local community — regardless of background, education level or social status — can explore how cloud computing technology is powering everything from weather predictions to smart homes," the company said.

"The Cape Town region is ripe with talent, and upskilling the workforce can play a key role in driving innovation, catalysing economic growth, and accelerating digital transformation across South Africa," said AWS training and certification vice president Maureen Lonergan.

Each centre features a wide range of cloud training and career exploration activities that are free of charge and open to the public, the company added.

"Each space is designed to engage visitors by showcasing how cloud technology is powering everything from weather predictions to robotics. Visitors learn by participating in a variety of fun and interactive experiences."

The centre also offers career coaching and hosts networking events with local employers and workforce development organisations to connect workers with job placement opportunities.

"It is exciting that we have chosen South Africa as the location of our first international skills centre," Tanuja Randery, MD of AWS in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said in a post-launch interview in Cape Town. "We want to make sure that we demystify tech, and the skills centre is about opening that world up to young South Africans."

The skills centre features eight immersive exhibits where visitors can explore real-world cloud applications, learn the specific technologies enabling them and get help structuring a learning path in the direction of their interest that is also appropriate to their skill level. They can then book free classes, which are held both in-person at the centre and online, six days a week, said AWS.

According to Randery, the company hopes to use the new centre on Heerengracht Street – diagonally opposite the International Convention Centre – to supplement the growth funded by the "R30-billion investment" that AWS is making in the South African economy over the next six years. "We aim to train 60 000 people in the next two years", she said.

The Cape Town launch pays homage to AWS's historical roots, as the "Mother City" is where a group of South African engineers led by Chris Pinkham developed the first Elastic Compute Cloud instance (EC2) in 2006, which now serves as the core of the AWS business.

The launch of the skills centre by AWS comes as parent Amazon.com prepares to launch e-commerce marketplace operations in South Africa. 

Compiled by Lehlohonolo Lehana.