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Amazon Web Services South Africa has announced that it has attained Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Level 1 status. As part of the B-BBEE Level 1 status, AWS ZA achieved maximum points for Enterprise Development, Supplier Development, and Ownership elements of the scorecard, upon first verification. AWS ZA’s other initiatives, contributing to its Level 1 status, include funding for small business, the Amazon Web Services Equity Equivalent Investment Program (AWS EEIP), and skills development programs delivered through AWS Academy and AWS Educate.

“We are thrilled to attain a B-BBEE Level 1 status,” said Prabashni Naidoo, Director at Amazon Web Services, South Africa. “This is a continuation of our commitment to support the transformation and economic development of South Africa. Our Enterprise and Supplier Development programs will enable small businesses to flourish. As these businesses grow, AWS cloud services will help transform their operations and allow them to compete on a global scale. In addition, our skills development programs will help grow the next generation of highly skilled South African developers and engineers.”

A priority element in the B-BBEE scorecard is Skills Development, which is helping to increase youth skills and employability across the country. For over two years, AWS ZA has been working with education institutions, such as the Durban University of Technology, Stellenbosch University, University of Cape Town, and many more to help train the next generation of cloud professionals through AWS Academy and AWS Educate. Hundreds of students in South Africa are benefitting from the AWS Academy program, an introductory course that provides a detailed overview of cloud concepts, AWS core services, architecture, security, and support. The course also prepares students to pursue an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification, one of the most popular technical certifications in the world today. In addition, AWS ZA has provided cloud skills development to youths, from previously disadvantaged communities and townships, via the the AWS eKasiprogram. Through AWS eKasi, students complete an intensive one-year training course, which provides fundamental understanding of software development and cloud computing technologies, giving students the skills for the jobs of the future.

Invitation to apply to the AWS Equity Equivalent Investment Program

Today, AWS ZA is also inviting qualifying 100 percent black-owned Exempted Micro Enterprises (EMEs) and Qualifying Small Enterprises (QSEs) within the ICT sector to apply to be part of the Amazon Web Services Equity Equivalent Investment Program (AWS EEIP). The AWS EEIP was announced in 2019 and will see over R365 million invested over a seven-year period in the development and growth of black-owned small businesses in South Africa. This will help entrepreneurs and businesses owners develop and enhance their skills in advanced technologies such as cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning (ML), mobile technologies, and more.

The AWS EEIP will enable entrepreneurs and technical professionals in South Africa to build businesses that will play a key role in the country’s digital transformation. Successful applicants will undergo an 18 – 24 month enterprise development and incubation program where they will receive technical training and support from AWS ZA and will result in AWS EEIP members becoming AWS Certified Developers and Solutions Architects.  These businesses will also receive business enablement support such as coaching, mentorship, and funding to help take their business to the next stage of growth. As these businesses complete their training, and gain AWS competencies, they can become Select Amazon Partner Network members and move up a tier in the Amazon Partner Network (APN), becoming an Advanced Partner, to further strengthen their business. Upon completion of the program, these businesses will have access to AWS’s ecosystem of millions of active customers, of every size, across virtually every industry. Eligible EMEs and QSEs can visit www.awseeipthinkbigchallenge.splashthat.com for more information and to submit their applications, by 10 April 2020.

Achieving B-BBEE Level 1 status, and the launch of the AWS EEIP, is another step in AWS’s continued commitment, growth, and long-term investment in South Africa. In 2018, AWS announced it will launch its first AWS Region in Africa in Cape Town in the first half of 2020. The new AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region will have three Availability Zones at launch and will enable customers to run workloads in South Africa and serve end-users across the African continent with even lower latency. Additionally, it will enable more organizations across Sub-Saharan Africa to leverage advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, ML, IoT, mobile services, and more to drive innovation. AWS customers will be able to store their data in South Africa with the assurance that they retain control over it, while those looking to comply with Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) will have access to secure infrastructure that meets the most rigorous international compliance standards. For more information on AWS’s global infrastructure, go to: https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/global-infrastructure/.