[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Africa is an emerging data center market

Africa is an emerging data center market and has witnessed around 15 data center investments in 2020.  The region is experiencing growth in internet penetration, which can be a major driver for data center investors.

The growth in the adoption of IoT and big data analytics services will result in the rapid growth of data center development in Africa. This is according to a new report by ReportLinker, a market research solution. 

The report, released last week, notes that the market is evolving, and investments are expected to rise significantly with contributions from local and global data center operators.

The continent currently requires a 1000 megawatts and 700 data centers facilities. The demand has been growing over the last decade – following a similar path to industry development across the globe, as content consumption becomes more of a priority

Data centers are being utilized more than ever. ‘’ For example, the world’s largest internet exchange facility, DE-CIX Frankfurt, saw on-average data traffic increases of 10 percent in early March last year as people started staying at home. Our switch to video conferencing, which has seen triple digit growth, is another example of changing habits and the need to understand how our data usage will affect our data centers.’’  Carol Koech, the Country President, Schneider Electric East Africa said in a column published recently.

Last week, Africa Data Centres announced plans to build large hyperscale data centres throughout Africa, including the North African countries of Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.The project will involve building 10 hyperscale data centres, in 10 countries, over the next two years – at a cost of more than US$500m. It is being funded through new equity and facilities from leading development finance institutions and multilateral organisations.

Data center spending is also going up with research firm Gartner estimating that end-user spending on global data center infrastructure is projected to reach US$200 billion in 2021, up 6% from 2020. 

The priority for most companies in 2020 according to Naveen Mishra, senior research director at Gartner is keeping the lights on, so data center growth is generally being pushed back until the market enters the recovery period. Gartner expects larger enterprise data centers sites to hit pause temporarily and then resume expansion plans later this year or early next. However, hyperscalers will continue with their global expansion plans due to continued investments in public cloud.

South Africa is the leading colocation data center market in Africa, with high cloud-based service adoption, increased enterprise digitalization drive, and migration from on-premises facilities expected to drive the data center market in the country.  The market size is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 15.17% during the period 2020−2026. In 2020, Teraco Data Environments, Africa Data Centre, NTT Global Data Centers were the major data center investors in the country. For instance, Teraco Data Environments’ JB1 and JB3 facilities added a space of over 43,000 square feet.

Bottom line, Africa is by far the most exciting region when it comes to digital growth and data centers are the basis of this growth.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at  Incentro Africa.

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Nguniri: Kenya’s Data Center Market Size by investment is set to Reach $342 Million by 2026

Kenya is witnessing the growing adoption of digital services such as cloud, big data, and IoT driving the demand for data centers in the region.

Kenya’s data center market is set to grow at a CAGR of 12.36% during 2021-2026. This is according to the “Kenya Data Center – Investment Analysis & Growth Opportunities 2021-2026” report released this week.

The report notes that  the data center market in Kenya includes around six unique third-party data center service providers operating around nine facilities. 

Kenya is one of Africa’s primary data center hubs and is considered the gateway to the East African region. Nairobi, the capital city, is a favorable location for data center development. In Kenya, Unaitas Sacco, a financial firm, selected Eastra Solutions for installation and commissioning services to Unaitas Data Center. Atos is investing in the development of a new data center facility in Kenya with around USD 260 million investment at the Mwale Medical and Technology City (MMTC) in Butere, Kakamega County.

Icolo.io which is among the top data centers investors in Kenya recently announced the construction of its third data center in Kenya to be located in Nyali, Mombasa. Called MBA2, the new data center is expected to be completed in Q1 of 2022 and set to provide an estimated capacity of 1.6MW megawatt and 1,200 square meters of IT space. 

Other key investors include IXAfrica, PAIX, Teraco Data Environments, and Wingu.

Other tech giants like Huawei Huawei Technologies is among the leading vendors in the modular data center space with multiple efficient and reliable deployments. All the vendors the report notes have taken precautionary measures to reduce disruptions in their supply chain operations. The most commonly adopted servers in the industry include rack and blade servers from Cisco Systems, HPE, Dell Technologies, IBM, and Lenovo.

Data centers are being utilized now more than ever according to Carol Koech is the Country President for Schneider Electric East Africa. Data spending is also going up with Gartner estimating that end-user spending on global data center infrastructure is projected to reach US$200 billion in 2021, up 6% from 2020. The landscape in East Africa is no different. In Kenya for example, the country has a total number of 43.7 million Internet/data subscriptions according to the Communication Authority of Kenya; this coupled with the country’s youthful demographics means that data demand will rise rapidly, which will require more data centers. And we can already see investments in this space.

Across Africa, the continent accounts for less than 1% of the world’s co-location data centre supply, with South Africa accounting for the bulk of the continent’s capacity. Co-location facilities rent space, power and cooling to enterprise and hyperscale customers; they also offer interconnection enabling businesses to scale at low complexity and cost.

Nina Triantis, Global Head of Telecoms, Media & Technology at Standard Bank notes that we should expect to see a substantial wave of data centre investments materialise across the continent, led by regional economic powerhouses including South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.  

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa.

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: There’s an increasing demand for data centers in Africa

As internet penetration in African continues to increase, the demand for data centers is also booming. Customers in Africa are increasingly using data centers to access public cloud-based services from hosts like Google, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and others.

For the time being, Africa accounts for less than 1% of the world’s co-location data centre supply, with South Africa accounting for the bulk of the continent’s capacity. Co-location facilities rent space, power and cooling to enterprise and hyperscale customers; they also offer interconnection enabling businesses to scale at low complexity and cost.

Nina Triantis Global Head of Telecoms, Media & Technology at Standard Bank notes that we expect to see a substantial wave of data centre investments materialise across the continent, led by regional economic powerhouses including South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.  

In South Africa for example, Teraco’s regional interconnection hubs were  further enhanced by the addition of the Africa Coast to Europe Subsea Cable (ACE). The ACE submarine cable is now live and available for interconnection at three of Teraco’s data centres across South Africa, expanding access to broadband connectivity and digital services on the continent.

In February this year,  a new report from The African Data Centres Association (ADCA) and Xalam Analytic revealed that Africa needs 1000MW and 700 facilities to meet growing demand and bring the rest of the continent onto level terms with the capacity and density of South Africa,s claims. 

The reports notes that “At the onset of a new decade, it is increasingly acknowledged that Africa needs a lot more data center capacity than is currently available,”

 “The need for hosting capacity is largely structural; an outgrowth of a host of megatrends that are transforming the region’s economic and social fabric and are putting considerable pressure on existing infrastructure.” 

In 2020, the Africa data center market size by investment was valued at USD 2 billion in 2020 and is expected to USD 5 billion by 2026.  

These data centers are key to the continent achieving its digital potential. Jonathan Duncan, the Secure Power Director, Anglophone Africa at Schneider notes that data centers are the basis for digital transformation

‘’We’re going to need many more data centers everywhere across the continent to power economies, speed up connectivity and reduce the overall costs for server-hosted services,’’ he says in an op-ed published on iAfrikan.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa.