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Africa Data Centres pumps billions into SA facilities

By , ITWeb senior news journalist.
South Africa , 19 Nov 2021
Africa Data Centres recently completed the 10MW JHB1 data centre in Midrand.
Africa Data Centres recently completed the 10MW JHB1 data centre in Midrand.

Carrier-neutral co-location data centre provider Africa Data Centres has secured an investment of almost R4 billion to expand its two Johannesburg-based data centres from 30MW to 100MW of IT load.

The company owns and operates Africa’s largest network of interconnected, carrier- and cloud-neutral data centre facilities.

It is securing land to build a third data centre location in Johannesburg (and its fourth in SA) within the next two years. This will be its largest location – generating 50MW.

The announcement was made by Africa Data Centres CEO Stephane Duproz, during a media tour at the company’s Midrand campus yesterday evening.

Africa Data Centres forms part of fibre solutions provider Cassava Technologies, based across 14 countries, primarily in Eastern, Southern and South Africa, providing mobile operators, carriers, enterprise, media and content companies with high-speed connectivity solutions.

Founded by executive chairman Strive Masiyiwa, Cassava Technologies is the new Pan-African technology group that owns large telco brands, such as Liquid Intelligent Technologies, Sasai Fintech, Vaya Technologies and Distributed Power Technologies.

Africa Data Centres owns three data centres in SA, in Midrand (JHB1), Centurion (JHB2) and Elfindale, Cape Town (CPT1).

According to Duproz, the Johannesburg expansion plans are a microcosm of the company’s broader vision, which will see it build 10 hyperscale data centres across Africa, including in Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco and Egypt, over the next two years.

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

It intends to massively expand its infrastructure, amid increased digital economy support by government and the private sector, leading to a booming cloud market and the continent’s data centre market attracting large investments from global players.

“Africa Data Centres has set aside $500 million towards a major expansion, as we plan to more than double our already large footprint in Africa, over the next two years.

“This is expected to boost digital transformation on the continent and we are allocating half of that to SA, as we are also planning an expansion of significant magnitude across both our Johannesburg-based data centres and a third data centre to be located in Johannesburg.

“When you look at our future plans in terms of data centre expansion, we are looking at having 50% of our African-based data centres located in SA. We are looking to invest more here to be able to eventually make more,” explained Duproz.

While he did not divulge many details of the new data centre, Duproz noted the $500 million will only be channelled towards expansion plans, excluding the construction of the data centre.

He added the plans for the Johannesburg facilities are an integral part of the continent’s data centre market expansion, as SA is one of the key markets in Africa, and a gateway for smaller neighbouring markets.

The announcement follows the completion of the company’s 10MW JHB1 data centre in September, billed as one of the largest in Africa.

The JHB1 hyperscale data centre is designed to the latest global standards, and is part of its response to the demand for data centres, as businesses across the continent accelerate their digital transformation journeys.

Cassava Technologies now operates the largest independent Pan-African terrestrial fibre broadband network, covering more than 300 towns and cities across Africa.

“Today’s announcement by Africa Data Centres and our expansion plans highlight our commitment to accelerating digital transformation in Africa. Growing our data centre footprint is a key part of delivering on our vision of a digitally-connected future that leaves no African behind,” said Hardy Pemhiwa, president and CEO of Cassava Technologies, speaking during the event.

Onwards and upwards

The Africa data centre market by investment was valued at $2 billion in 2020, and is expected to reach a compound annual growth rate of 15% between 2020 and 2026, according to Reportlinker.

Contributing factors to this growth include renewable power availability, smart city initiatives and increased support for the digital economy, notes the report.

As data demand and cloud adoption continue to cause a surge in traffic, data centres are becoming increasingly important on the continent.

Africa Data Centres says its vision is to unveil various business opportunities and develop a strategic network of partnerships to further strengthen and grow its market share in Africa, while providing high-quality interconnected, carrier- and cloud-neutral data centre facilities.

The company recently began the development of a second data centre of up to 20MW of IT load in Kenya and is securing land for a third facility in the country. It has also established other data centres in Lagos, Nigeria and Lomé, Togo.

Examining Africa’s growth trajectory allowed the company to make investment decisions on new locations and commit to expanding selected existing locations, stated Duproz.

“Africa Data Centres currently has the largest carrier-neutral data centre in Nairobi and East Africa as a whole. We have a dynamic ecosystem, in terms the largest number of connectivity providers on-site in the region, as well as the strongest leadership in the enterprise sector and financial services in particular.”

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