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Future is bright for African data centres

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It is still in the early stages, but Africa could be entering a new era of significant data centre market opportunity.
A new report from international consultant BroadGroup, ahead of its Invest in Data Centre Africa Summit on 8 June, suggests that Africa’s coud be transitioning from mobile as digitisation is encouraging the development of carrier-neutral facilities.
However, the report warns that the journey will be challenging given the relatively low base from which demand in most countries is starting.
In a new report, Data Centre Africa, covering 16 country markets, research has identified 74 players with 91 data centres. The report reviews these country markets to see trends, key players, where they are now and how they are doing in the move to resolve supply issues such as reliable power infrastructure, alternative telecoms infrastructure, a national market for IP peering, international bandwidth connectivity and an evolving a carrier neutral data centre infrastructure.
Not everything is bad news. Some African countries actually have a power surplus and are exporting power. There is also growing investment in submarine cables to help with bringing in and distributing power.
Even poor supply situations have their upside as enterprise users are forced to choose between investing in their own back-up power generating capacity or migration to a more cost effective third party data centre provider.
It remains to be seen whether this will contribute sufficient impetus in demand for local third-party hosting and content services in some African countries.
“Change has been slow but there are signs that growth is quickening,” comments Philip Low of BroadGroup. “A host of factors ranging from connectivity to physical environment to policy can act as barriers to growth but this new report looks beyond these issues and reveals new data centre operators are discovering innovative solutions to provide services for their customers.”
The report suggests that potential in the markets which all operate at different speeds of development is significant. Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa all lead in development of data centre ecosystems and are achieving faster growth.
Yet IT outsourcing, content hosting locally and cloud are all at very early stages of evolution that can be accelerated with more distinct investment in fibre, low latency satellite broadband and sustained cable upgrades, and will eventually deliver an exciting and significantly sized market opportunity.