AWS Sets up Shop in Nigeria as Startups, Developers Battle Against FX Crisis

In a boost for Nigeria’s digital economy, Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary of Amazon, recently announced the opening of a new office in Lagos, from which it will support the growing number of Nigerian businesses deploying AWS Services.

AWS, a cloud computing services provider, offers more than 200 different services for hosting, developing and managing applications. As a result, partner businesses are no longer limited by their physical computing capacity and can access various functions, storage, databases, networking, analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) tools from pretty much any computer.

For entrepreneurs who have an idea for a new digital product or service and once had to invest heavily in hardware to realize their visions, the barrier to entry has been dramatically lowered thanks to AWS and other cloud providers.

Read on: Big Tech Eyes Untapped Cloud Opportunities in MEA Markets

The arrival of a new AWS office in the country also gives Nigeria’s startup ecosystem access to a dedicated team of Amazon account managers and solutions architects who can assist them in making the most out of the services provided.

The new Lagos location will further act as an important counterpart to the network of AWS Outpost Racks in Nigeria and give Nigerian developers access to the deep expertise required to optimize service usage and deploy more complex virtual environments.

“We look forward to fostering the country’s pioneering spirit and helping our customers accelerate their digital transformation as they deliver innovative new products and services to the Nigerian community,” Amrote Abdella, Sub-Saharan Africa regional manager at AWS, told Nigeria’s Vanguard.

Already, AWS counts some of Nigeria’s fast-growing digital startups and businesses as clients. These include human resources (HR) software developer SeamlessHR and pan-African crypto exchange platform Yellow Card.

See more: Crypto Exchange Yellow Card Raises $40M to Expand

Navigating Ongoing FX Crisis

In light of chronic inflation and a scarcity of U.S. dollars that Nigerian businesses need to operate internationally, Amazon’s arrival in the West African country is likely to be welcome news for firms in the local startup ecosystem.

Some of the country’s biggest banks, including Standard Chartered and First Bank Nigeria, have already suspended international transactions for naira-holding cards, meaning that consumers and small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that relied on their bank cards to pay for products and services abroad now have to find alternate means of payment.

In this climate, multi-currency accounts, cross-border FinTech solutions and other non-bank foreign exchange channels have become critical.

At present, Nigerian banks’ decision to limit transactions to the domestic currency presents a major headache for businesses looking to sign up for AWS.

Even to take advantage of the 12 months of free hosting it offers in the country, Nigerians still need valid credit/debit card details to sign up for the service in case they exceed the free tier. So, as long as naira-based cards are still locked out of foreign exchange mechanisms, AWS customers will need access to a card that holds one of the 17 supported currencies.

To make matters worse, many of Nigeria’s FinTech solution providers have suspended their own dollar-based products.

In July, Flutterwave suspended its virtual dollar card service Bartercard in almost the same breath as similar announcements from Eversend, Payday, GetEquity, Busha and Vesti — all of which relied on card services from Zambian FinTech Union54.

But despite these FX challenges, AWS seems unfazed and is betting on the relevance of the Nigerian market, one of the largest on the African continent. On top of the new location, the firm has reaffirmed its commitment to the various education and business incubation initiatives it runs at AWS Academy member institutions in Nigeria, including the University of Benin, the University of Jos and Igbinedion University.

Meanwhile, the cloud training program AWS re/Start runs courses in Lagos, Edo and in Benue State, where AWS is a strategic partner of the recently-opened New Vision Institute of Technology.

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This content was originally published here.