Cloud technology makes everything from apps to documents available on the Internet. PHOTO/ COURTESY


How SMES are banking on cloud technology 

What you need to know:

Cloud computing helps businesses stay at the forefront of technology without making large investments in purchasing, maintaining, and servicing equipment. 

Technology keeps evolving and with each update comes a better way to perform a task. One of the innovations is cloud computing technology. This allows individuals and businesses access to certain data or services in a location separate from end users. 

Cloud storage has grown increasingly popular among individuals who need larger storage space and businesses seeking an efficient off-site data backup solution.

Some cloud service providers in the country include the government, Huawei, and Raxio, among others.
In November 2022, Mr Ethan Bampaire, the team lead at, a product of Campaignity Technologies got a cloud tech offer from Huawei. The company creates content, social media advertising, gets leads and builds AI technologies to convert sales for their business-to-business SME clients.

Mr Ethan Bampaire, the team lead at  PHOTO/Joan Salmon

“We do all this and more on our Klark platform which is hosted in the cloud,” he says.
While they had embraced cloud, mainly working with Google Cloud, the start-up’s cloud costs were as high as $100 on the backdrop of $700 in earnings and other costs such as rent, and utilities.

During the Catalyzer accelerator, under the Start Hub, the firm was selected for the Huawei offer due to its hefty server costs. With cost implications removed, Mr Bampaire says they can think about other things. 

“We are experimenting a bit more such as with Artificial Intelligence (AI) for optimised operations. We can also increase the random access memory (RAM) and disk space for optimal operation,” he says.

The company had also suffered downtime though not as severe as to cause client complaints. The Huawei cloud, however, is mainly appreciated by developers on the back-end due to higher speeds, resulting in greater capacity, and a more flexible platform.

“We delved into some manual processes such as Open AI which did not depend on a third party. With Huawei, they are faster which boosts our research and development arm,” he says. 
In January 2023, Mr David Kombe of Bluss Tech, a web application building company also got Huawei Cloud. While the small-scale tech company was not unaware of the technology, it relied on other cloud providers whose costs were high.

“Our cloud expenses were more than $350 per month. At that time, we used AWS for hosting web applications and Azure for developer operations,” he says.

“The challenge with AWS was the high cost of basic services yet the speed was still low. Then,  our clients had problems with their emails, sites took longer to load, and even web applications were slow,” he says.

Mr David Kombe of Bluss Tech, a web application building company using cloud technologies.  PHOTO/Joan Salmon 

Blue Streams Solution first interfaced with Huawei during the Makerere Job fair.

Mr Kombe says the technology company transferred all their services to Huawei servers. That allowed them to build a capacity resulting in more clients. Even after the one-year package is over, these will continue to cover expenses. 
Mr Kombe says when the offer period is over, we will prioritise what we need because payment is based on usage,” he says.

Ms Beatrice Nabukenya, the cloud services engineer at National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U)  says the government has been instrumental in established government data centres including the establishment of TIER 3 design primary and secondary data centres ISO 27001 certified facilities. 

Unlike traditional hardware and software, cloud computing helps businesses stay at the forefront of technology without making large investments in purchasing, maintaining, and servicing equipment. Additionally, cloud computing technology gives users access to storage, files, software and servers through internet-connected devices. These include computers, smartphones, tablets, and wearables.

Some of the technologies offered include infrastructure as a service (IaaS), communication as a service (CaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS).

SMEs shift to cloud services
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) can benefit significantly from cloud technologies due to its various advantages. These include:

Cost savings

 Mr Elijah Mwesigwa, the IT and cloud solutions specialist at Huawei Technologies, says cloud is crucial because most SMEs have brilliant economy-advancing ideas but few resources to invest in their business. 

“Building and maintaining a physical data centre is very costly and often relies on the capital expenditure model. This is where one buys servers based on estimates, which may be over, or underestimated. With cloud, that is dealt with as cloud payments are based on need. Therefore, cloud gives businesses more power to think about business advancement as it handles the operation end,” he says.

Cloud services allow SMEs to easily scale up or down their resources based on business needs. “This flexibility is particularly beneficial for businesses with fluctuating demands or growth,” Ms Nabukenya says.

Accessibility and mobility
Cloud services can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, enabling employees to work remotely or on the go. This enhances collaboration and improves productivity.
Automatic updates and maintenance: Cloud service providers handle system updates, security patches, and maintenance tasks.

Reduced downtime
Downtime is frustrating as one cannot access certain services due to network issues. According to Mr Kombe, that happens when servers are down and is exacerbated by low internet speeds.

“It also happens when traffic is higher than servers can handle. However, cloud is not affected by internet speeds as a physical data centre would,” he says.

Automatic updates and maintenance: Cloud service providers handle system updates, security patches, and maintenance tasks.

“That relieves SMEs of the burden of managing these aspects themselves,” Ms Nabukenya says.

Data backup and recovery
 With a physical setting, an SME will need a systems administrator to create a recovery database that could also get corrupted. 

“Cloud providers offer robust data backup and recovery mechanisms, ensuring that critical business data is safe and can be restored in the event of a disaster or data loss,” she says.

The world is moving from one-off products to software as a service due to cloud. In fact, even Microsoft transitioned to Microsoft Office 365 which one pays for yearly from licensed packages. That ensures developers remain relevant in the industry," he says.

Ms Nabukenya points out that the differences in cost between international cloud providers and those in-country include:
Stringent regulations

There is a lot of scrutiny surrounding cloud providers in other countries compared to Uganda which is young in cloud adoption. Stringy policies call for stringier measures that increase costs.

The likes of Amazon and Google have standards they implement with all their clients and do not necessarily tailor solutions to fit different markets. That is where Huawei takes the upper hand because it has a country office hence a high business-client relationship. It allows them to easily tailor solutions to meet their clients’ needs.

Cloud services differ in price, and international cloud providers assume that customers have some cloud knowledge before purchasing. For instance, one may turn on and off a service depending on usage times which lowers the monthly cost. There are also additional charges such as public IP addresses, and cloud users' traffic amount. It is necessary that one is conversant with the platform and knows how to do a total cost of ownership to avoid unnecessary costs.