Africa Data Centres: International Telecoms Week 2021 discusses the growing data center ecosystem in West Africa

Sep 01, 2021 | Posted by MadalineDunn

International Telecoms Week 2021 was recently held, with 1,500 attendees in National Harbor and over 5,000 attending virtually. A number of experts from the data center industry came together and discussed data center expansion in Africa, and the current disparity between data centers and population in the continent, having only one per cent of global data center capacity while being home to 17% of the world's population. 

Experts attending the event included ​the Chief Executive Officer of MainOne, Funke Opeke; Ayotunde Coker of Rack Center; Wouter van Hulten of Pan-African Internet Exchange Data Centres, Stephane Duproz of Africa Data Centres; and Guy Zibi of Xalam Analytics. 

At the plenary session, the event focussed on exploring 'the growing data centre ecosystem in West Africa,' where the experts pointed to significant investment in digital infrastructure due to the pandemic. Moreover, it was outlined that the data centre market was ready for expansion due to increased access to broadband and the "rapid uptake of services" by "large enterprises, fintechs, and global players entering the region for the first time".

Chief Executive Officer of MainOne, Funke Opeke, commented: "In Ghana, we recently launched a Tier III Data Centre in Appolonia City, and in Nigeria, we are expanding our Lekki Data Centre 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."

She added: "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 Centre where we are already exploring replacing diesel with gas and renewable sources for our residual power needs."

Africa Data Centres recently announced that it is investing ​​$500 million into 10 data centers across Africa, including Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt in North Africa, in what it is calling the continent's largest-ever data centre expansion plan. Experts say this kind of development is only likely to grow as large global content providers plan new submarine cables and edge nodes are deployed in the region.