Black-owned SMEs in the ICT sector are at the centre of a new investment program designed by Amazon Web Services South Africa and Amazon Data Services South Africa.

Dubbed the Amazon Web Services Equity Equivalent Investment Program (or simply AWS EEIP), the program will invest R365 million to develop sustainable 100 percent black-owned businesses within the ICT sector.

The program forms part of the Department of Trade and Industry’s push to give multinational firms an opportunity to invest in South African SMEs while contributing to broad-based black economic empowerment.

“The AWS EEIP will lead to the development of numerous highly skilled jobs in the local economy. The intention of the program is to give the black-owned small businesses the knowledge, resources, and skills to be successful,” minister of trade and industry, Ebrahim Patel, said in a statement.

“This will enable them to provide professional services to organizations, in both the private and public sectors, supporting them with their ICT strategy and helping them to take advantage of cloud computing and other digital technologies in order to innovate and grow. We seek to develop local businesses and ensure net job creation in the South African economy,” continued Patel.

The AWS EEIP will take the form of an 18 – 24 month development and incubation course where AWS will provide training and support the growth of technical expertise in cloud computing. The program should result in a new swathe of AWS Certified Developers and Solutions Architects entering the market via these SMEs.

AWS says that as these SMEs complete training they will become Select or Advanced Partners in the AWS Partner Network.

“We have been blown away with the high quality of technical talent we have already seen in South Africa and are excited to see the creativity and unique thinking that the AWS EEIP will now drive,” said director at Amazon Web Services South Africa, Prabashni Naidoo.

“Through this new program, we are committed to producing a new generation of highly skilled and productive black-owned South African small businesses.These new APN Partners will help create limitless opportunities for our customers, helping them to innovate and further contribute to economic growth of South Africa,” the director concluded.