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Why Africa Data Centres is plotting expansion now

On the back of its announcement of a US$500-million investment in the construction of ten hyperscale datacentres in Africa, Leadership at Africa Data Centres is confident the company will achieve its target to double the size of its current footprint on the continent over the next two years. With financial backing and momentum gained through growth, the company believes the time is right to accelerate expansion plans.

Stephane Duproz, CEO, Africa Data Centres.
Stephane Duproz, CEO, Africa Data Centres.

“We are doubling everything… we are doubling the number of cities we operate are operating in, we are more than doubling the number of countries we operate in, and we are more than doubling our overall datacentre capacity,” Africa Data Centres CEO, Stephane Duproz told ITWeb Africa.

Africa Data Centres operates in Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa, where, according to Duproz, the company is emerging as a market leader. It leads in Kenya’s market and has smaller but very active facilities in Zimbabwe and Rwanda. It plans to open a new facility and business in Lagos soon.

The opportunity to expand the company’s footprint is a core component of its overall expansion plan that will see new datacentres developed across Africa, including North Africa in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

The company is following a specific expansion plan and this is based on expansion from regions in which it already has presence and strong operation.

Duproz explains that the ten countries earmarked for development are located in Southern and Eastern Africa, after which it will expand strongly into Western Africa.

Africa Data Centres will use Lagos as a base in West Africa and it has already secured land in the city to proceed with the first phase of its 10MW project “within weeks”. It is also pursuing development n Accra, Ghana, but Lagos is more advanced.

North Africa is now on the cards for the company to establish presence and operations, and this is the first time the region has been announced as a target in terms of expansion plans.

The construction of new datacentres is being funded through new equity and facilities from leading development finance institutions and multilateral organisations. Duproz said the company cannot divulge details of which institutions or organisations are involved.

He did acknowledge the value of support from Liquid Intelligent Technologies. “Those facilities in terms of loans and equity are going through the Liquid Intelligent Technologies Group, which is fully dedicated to ADC.”

Duproz also highlighted the value that datacentres offer the market, not only from a commercial point of view, but also in terms of the quality of life for end-users.

He said that according to McKinsey research, as countries embrace digital, governments will see running costs drop by 70%.

“The digital world that we house, the same report says can generate productivity gains of up to 25%, and obviously gives a much better environment to operate in the health sector, as well as capacity for innovation,” said Duproz. “Our datacentres are the home of cloud operators as well, and operators give a way for people in the digital world to get affordable IT capacity to better express their creativity and innovation. We are immediately seeing fantastic knock-on effects everywhere we operate, from government, health institutions …”

He emphasised the maturity of Africa’s finance industry and the role of technology in empowering stakeholders in this industry.

Offering companies a gateway

But there is another avenue of business interest that Africa Data Centres is keen on exploring and expanding, and that is to serve as a gateway for companies that have an interest in entering the Africa market and exploiting opportunities.

This could involve all of the actors within the digital spectrum, according to Duproz. “You do have a number of organisations wishing to address Africa the same way as we do, which is going beyond isolated countries but having a pan-African vision.”

For example, cloud operators from outside Africa - typically American organsiations - that want to deploy in Africa and partner with a reliable datacentre operator.

“But we are also seeing a lot of African organisations now using our infrastructure capacity to deploy over the continent and that is something we are facilitating heavily and we are also very excited about.”

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