Kenya emerges as datacentre powerhouse
Africa Data Centres, the pan-African network of vendor-and carrier-neutral datacentres, has ranked Kenya in second place – just behind South Africa – in terms of the growth and development of its datacentre market.
Stephane Duproz, CEO at Africa Data Centres, said the East African country is listed among the top five datacentre markets in Africa (alongside Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa), but has recently experienced a steady and “healthy” adoption of relevant technology by enterprises.
The company manages, plans and sells power capacity expressed in kilowatts, used and paid for by customers.
Typically, a rack provides three kilowatts and in Africa, the general request is for several racks to provide between ten and fifty kilowatts of power.
Duproz said South Africa has long been the only country in Africa in which there are requests (mostly from large enterprises like banks) for megawatt power supply - until now.
Africa Data Centres’ regional hub in Nairobi is now receiving similar requests, a clear indication the market is maturing.
The company plans to intensify its focus on market growth and meeting local demand.
Duproz said: “We are currently seeing a significant transformation in the profile in the requests we are getting in Kenya. At ADC Kenya we are still seeing a very healthy take-up by enterprise, they understand that is more secure, more cost effective to have their IT equipment in a proprietary centre than in their own facility, this includes banks… it shows that Kenya is becoming country number two in the datacentre market in Africa.”
He added, “We have definitely decided that it (Nairobi) is the most connected in terms of the number of telcos, something like thirty, and we have the internet exchange point there, so it is the most connected and consequently the most attractive facility - if you have content to distribute. Because the more networks are available in the datacentre, the more routes you have to distribute your content … and obviously cloud providers are essentially content providers.”
Duproz believes Nigeria is likely to reach that stage in the foreseeable future. “If you take the total use capacity of the current Nigerian datacentres, you hardly get to potentially one or two megawatts in total… so we’re not there yet.”
Carrier neutral datacentres
Duproz said there are very few carrier neutral datacentres in Kenya and ADC has a firm track record of operating as a carrier neutral service provider, which will help differentiate it in the market – and see to the megawatt requests.
“Those requests are very clearly directed towards carrier-neutral datacentres. The development of datacentres, the arrival of hyperscalers will happen in datacentres who are open access in terms of companies being able to provide connectivity. And it is extremely unlikely that that development will happen in telco datacentres. We put absolutely no pressure at all on customers as to which telcos they can choose. It is really about free access. It’s critical that we operate like that, because that is the way the market is going to develop.”
Africa’s datacentre development
Duproz is a board member and president of the French Datacentre Association, as well as chairman of the European Datacentre Association, and Vice President of the Africa Data Centres Association (ADCA).
The ADCA is a membership-driven organisation that is focused on helping members with the most pressing challenges in the market, including data sovereignty, bandwidth costs, latency and IT computing power.
Duproz is convinced the organisation will help Africa develop its datacentre market as the continent becomes more digitally transformed.
However, the availability of skilled personnel remains a challenge.
“We have a lot of signs that it is happening and will continue to happen… but it is not there yet. Africa has as many skilled people as other parts of the world, but in Europe or in the US, you can easily find these skilled people. It’s not the case in Africa.”