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Data Centre operators plan more digital infrastructure investments

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Stakeholders have stated that data centre operators across Africa are investing in expanding their footprint to power the explosive growth in data consumption and digital services fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.  
   
These investments will ensure that large enterprises delivering services across Africa, and global content delivery networks will be able to provide seamless and uninterrupted services to their subscribers without incurring the costs of building their own data centers. 
  
This was revealed at the recently concluded plenary session at the International Telecoms Week 2021 themed: “Explore the growing Data Center ecosystem in West Africa”, sponsored by MainOne.
   

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The panel comprising of the leadership of leading data center businesses across the continent included the CEOs of MainOne, Funke Opeke, Ayotunde Coker of Rack Center, Wouter van Hulten of Pan-African Internet Exchange Data Centres (PAIX), Stephane Duproz of Africa Data Centres and was moderated by Guy Zibi of Xalam Analytics, the leading analyst covering data center developments on the continent.
  
The industry leaders highlighted the acceleration of investments in the digital infrastructure space in the region brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed the gaps that exist in the market.
  
Of particular note was the fact that West Africa currently delivers less than 10 per cent of the total African data center capacity and that Africa which is home to about 17 per cent of the world’s population has only one per cent of the global data center capacity.
  
This under-representation points to the fact that the majority of data content consumed in Africa is hosted outside the continent and the market is severely underserved.
  
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The speakers agreed that the market was ripe for expansion given the increasing access to broadband and the rapid uptake of services by large enterprises, FinTechs, and global players entering the region for the first time. In addition, the companies expect that growth to skyrocket with the new submarine cables planned by large global content providers and the deployment of edge nodes in the region.
  
The CEO of MainOne reviewed the company’s role in closing the gap in the region’s Data Center capacity, stating, “In Ghana, we recently launched a Tier III Data Center in Appolonia City, and in Nigeria, we are expanding our Lekki Data Center facility in Lagos which is near capacity with a new build. We will also break ground on our expansion in the VITIB Free trade zone in Abidjan before the end of the year.”
  
The session closed with reflections around the need for sustainability of Data Centers as more organizations focus on becoming carbon neutral. In this regard, MainOne said power remains a challenge in this part of the world and “we realised that while there is power available in the grid all across Africa, distribution is one of the key challenges. Our strategy has been deploying facilities with direct, privately enabled, access to grid power or independent power plants. This strategy has delivered 94 per cent grid power availability to the Lekki Data Center where we are already exploring replacing diesel with gas and renewable sources for our residual power needs.”

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