• Atlantean Media

Panning for data centre opportunities in Africa’s digital gold rush

East Africa is undergoing a technological revolution. Banking modernisation, transition to cloud-based services and expansion in household electrification are all helping to increase demand for web-based services in the region.

Add in a renewed sense of data mission criticality into the mix and the recipe brings together all the ingredients to create opportunities for data centre development.

Although Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania are expected to drive the region’s growth further in 2018 and 2019, according to the African Development Bank Group, for many, a lack of awareness could mean that they are overlooking the potential opportunities in East Africa, according to Guy Willner, CEO of IXcellerate.

“In western Europe and the US, there remains a perception of these emerging markets: “Oh, I went there in 1972. It’s terrible, isn’t it? There’s no power.” Just because Western Europe and the US is like Sleepy Hollow – nothing much has changed in infrastructure terms since 1985 – it doesn’t mean that nothing has changed in those countries. So, for example, Kenya has got loads of power now – the power grid is pretty good,“ he says.

London of Africa

Willner describes Nairobi as the “London of Africa”, saying it is very sophisticated technologically and adds that there is, to an extent, a “digital gold rush in Sub-Saharan Africa right now, with a lot expected to happen over the next five years”.

One such development is tipped to become the “biggest data centre campus in East Africa”.

Willner has his sights on a $100 million project which will eventually have a capacity of 30-40MW in Nairobi. Future-Tech is helping with initial design, planning and permissions, as well as “civil design philosophy” – helping to carve out a master plan on how 40MW can be deployed over a 10 year period.

Up to 10,000 racks will be delivered on the 14,000-metre site, although the IXcellerate CEO points out that the sheer number of racks, or size, is not the most important point here.

“It’s not about how many racks you’ve got – many companies around the world have gone out on their own and built out a massive project in the “build it and they’ll come” hope for customers. And I get so upset with these models, because that’s the best way to lose money.”


- This article was written for Future-tech and the full version appears here: