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[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Africa is an emerging data center market


Africa is an emerging data center market and has witnessed around 15 data center investments in 2020.  The region is experiencing growth in internet penetration, which can be a major driver for data center investors.

The growth in the adoption of IoT and big data analytics services will result in the rapid growth of data center development in Africa. This is according to a new report by ReportLinker, a market research solution. 

The report, released last week, notes that the market is evolving, and investments are expected to rise significantly with contributions from local and global data center operators.

The continent currently requires a 1000 megawatts and 700 data centers facilities. The demand has been growing over the last decade – following a similar path to industry development across the globe, as content consumption becomes more of a priority

Data centers are being utilized more than ever. ‘’ For example, the world’s largest internet exchange facility, DE-CIX Frankfurt, saw on-average data traffic increases of 10 percent in early March last year as people started staying at home. Our switch to video conferencing, which has seen triple digit growth, is another example of changing habits and the need to understand how our data usage will affect our data centers.’’  Carol Koech, the Country President, Schneider Electric East Africa said in a column published recently.

Last week, Africa Data Centres announced plans to build large hyperscale data centres throughout Africa, including the North African countries of Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.The project will involve building 10 hyperscale data centres, in 10 countries, over the next two years – at a cost of more than US$500m. It is being funded through new equity and facilities from leading development finance institutions and multilateral organisations.

Data center spending is also going up with research firm Gartner estimating that end-user spending on global data center infrastructure is projected to reach US$200 billion in 2021, up 6% from 2020. 

The priority for most companies in 2020 according to Naveen Mishra, senior research director at Gartner is keeping the lights on, so data center growth is generally being pushed back until the market enters the recovery period. Gartner expects larger enterprise data centers sites to hit pause temporarily and then resume expansion plans later this year or early next. However, hyperscalers will continue with their global expansion plans due to continued investments in public cloud.

South Africa is the leading colocation data center market in Africa, with high cloud-based service adoption, increased enterprise digitalization drive, and migration from on-premises facilities expected to drive the data center market in the country.  The market size is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 15.17% during the period 2020−2026. In 2020, Teraco Data Environments, Africa Data Centre, NTT Global Data Centers were the major data center investors in the country. For instance, Teraco Data Environments’ JB1 and JB3 facilities added a space of over 43,000 square feet.

Bottom line, Africa is by far the most exciting region when it comes to digital growth and data centers are the basis of this growth.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at  Incentro Africa.

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