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[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: There’s an increasing demand for data centers in Africa


As internet penetration in African continues to increase, the demand for data centers is also booming. Customers in Africa are increasingly using data centers to access public cloud-based services from hosts like Google, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and others.

For the time being, Africa accounts for less than 1% of the world’s co-location data centre supply, with South Africa accounting for the bulk of the continent’s capacity. Co-location facilities rent space, power and cooling to enterprise and hyperscale customers; they also offer interconnection enabling businesses to scale at low complexity and cost.

Nina Triantis Global Head of Telecoms, Media & Technology at Standard Bank notes that we expect to see a substantial wave of data centre investments materialise across the continent, led by regional economic powerhouses including South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.  

In South Africa for example, Teraco’s regional interconnection hubs were  further enhanced by the addition of the Africa Coast to Europe Subsea Cable (ACE). The ACE submarine cable is now live and available for interconnection at three of Teraco’s data centres across South Africa, expanding access to broadband connectivity and digital services on the continent.

In February this year,  a new report from The African Data Centres Association (ADCA) and Xalam Analytic revealed that Africa needs 1000MW and 700 facilities to meet growing demand and bring the rest of the continent onto level terms with the capacity and density of South Africa,s claims. 

The reports notes that “At the onset of a new decade, it is increasingly acknowledged that Africa needs a lot more data center capacity than is currently available,”

 “The need for hosting capacity is largely structural; an outgrowth of a host of megatrends that are transforming the region’s economic and social fabric and are putting considerable pressure on existing infrastructure.” 

In 2020, the Africa data center market size by investment was valued at USD 2 billion in 2020 and is expected to USD 5 billion by 2026.  

These data centers are key to the continent achieving its digital potential. Jonathan Duncan, the Secure Power Director, Anglophone Africa at Schneider notes that data centers are the basis for digital transformation

‘’We’re going to need many more data centers everywhere across the continent to power economies, speed up connectivity and reduce the overall costs for server-hosted services.’’ he says in an op-ed published on iAfrikan.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa.

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