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Africa poised for datacentre growth, but regulation is key

By , Sub Saharan Africa Business, Tech, News and Development Journalist
Africa , 28 Jun 2021
Stephane Duproz, CEO, Africa Data Centres.
Stephane Duproz, CEO, Africa Data Centres.

Stephane Duproz, CEO of Africa Data Centres (ADC) says demand for datacentres is on the increase across Africa as corporates and enterprises quickly digitise and move operations and platforms to the cloud.

This has sparked a rush to build datacentres, while the continent accounts for just 1% of total available global capacity.

Duproz says that there is strong demand for datacentres from banking, retail, health and telecommunication companies. Moving platforms and operations to cloud computing via datacentres helps with cost saving and promotes data sovereignty for companies, he says.

“Increased datacentre capacity will help Africa to export its creativity and innovations while African companies will be able to develop more and faster. African start-ups will grow as datacentres will become hubs of innovation for the whole of Africa,” Duproz continues.

According to the Data Centre Market in Africa - Industry Outlook and Forecast 2021-2026, in terms of investment, Africa’s datacentre market was valued at US$2-billion in 2020. It adds that the market is “expected to (grow to) US$5-billion by 2026” at a compounded annual growth of 15% between 2021 and 2026.

This will be fuelled by infrastructure investment from the likes of MainOne, ADC and operators. However, much depends on regulation and how this is enforced.

Duproz adds: “For African countries and companies to benefit from technology, there is need to have digital ecosystems, such as datacentres, and investment into that is really going to happen in situations where regulations allow that to happen.”

Another challenge in Africa is power supply. Some experts say the attractiveness of the continent’s datacentre markets is being dampened by power deficits, with the cost of investing into- and running these centres escalating because of the need to build power alternatives such as diesel generators, solar power plants and hybrid batteries.

The Data Centre Cost Index 2020 report by Turner and Townsend notes that “four large scale datacentres (were) due to be developed in 2021 close to Johannesburg” while there are currently “many feasibility studies being undertaken” in Cape Town.

“In Nigeria, there are two large datacentres scheduled for completion in 2021,” says the report.

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