Africa currently accounts for less than 1 per cent of total available global data centre capacity, according to Xalam Analytics, despite being home to approximately 17 per cent of the world’s population. However, with the continent’s urban population set to grow by 60 per cent by 2050, characterised by an increasing technology talent pool and an emerging middle class, the demand for data centres is set to increase.
“Data centres are at the heart of economic growth in Africa and without them, developing rich and self-sufficient ICT ecosystems cannot happen,” says Stephane Duproz, CEO of Africa Data Centres. The increase of data centres and Connectivity infrastructure in Africa has brought key Cloud service providers very interested to invest in the Continent. This includes Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Google cloud etc. South Africa, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt and Nigeria are at the forefront of improving the digital transformation. Kenya has not been left behind in this great investment.
Kenya Technopolis -The Africa Silicon Savanna, which sits on 5,000 acres, hosts a Tier III National Data Center. It comes with smart city facilities and services where international investors and stakeholders have much interest in investment. The data centre will support the Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) in which the government opts to have a private cloud alongside a government cloud.
In March this year, iColo a data centre and co-location provider, started construction of its third data centre located in Nyali, Mombasa which will host over 600 customer racks and set to provide an estimated capacity of 1.6MW megawatt and 1,200 square meters of IT space. iColo MBA2 is a greenfield build, Tier III data centre designed to deliver 99.999 per cent uptime for power and cooling.
“This will not only uplift the profile of Kenya digitally but also attract international cloud providers, large internet and communication companies to invest here,” said iColo CEO, Rajith Cherickel. East Africa Data Centre (EADC), a subsidiary of Liquid Telecom Kenya houses a data centre of 2,000 square metres of secured space for data servers on three floors in the centre. The Data Centre won Tier III Certification after proving that it delivers 100 per cent uptime in its electricity supply, cooling and IT systems.
Most government parastatals and companies have historically used their own in-house data servers for storage and computing which has increased risks like scalability, compliance, lack of SLA and support, security issues, lack of expertise and rising demand driven by an increasingly online population and therefore the cloud-based business world is leading them to outsource these capabilities to external data centres.
Keeping on-premise servers running and secure can generate a lot of extra costs, not the least of which being staffing a dedicated IT support team. Between the maintenance costs of server hardware, power consumption, and accounting for the physical space the server occupies, on-premise servers end up costing companies more money in the long run. With the cloud computing model, businesses only need to pay for the resources they use, without any maintenance or upkeep costs.
Translating on-premise servers to a remote workspace may require additional hardware, servers, or licensing, generating additional costs for a clunky transition process. In contrast, the cloud is intended for remote access, allowing customers to access their data in data centres in minutes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the value to businesses of being able to reliably access applications from virtually anywhere. Kenya is one of the fastest-growing data usage regions in Africa and therefore one of the key areas needing investment is the data centre sector which sits at the heart of the digital revolution.
The pandemic has led to people now relying on data and the internet more for work, education, virtual meetings, communication, entertainment etc. To cope with an increase in data traffic and dependency, more data centres needs to build and this means bringing the cloud to Africa. Data centre facility will make it possible to get more cloud services cheaply, hence driving great investments into countries and help create thousands of hi-tech jobs. This brings the content closer to the end-user thereby reducing latency and improving the Internet experience for all.
According to Turner & Townsend global report on Data Centre cost index 2020, Nairobi – Kenya overtook Johannesburg in 2020 to reach 27th place in the table of data centre contribution costs globally, in what is expected to be an extremely hot market during 2021 as hyper scale investment.
Jackson Kimeu is a specialist in Cloud Governance & Cybersecurity Consultancy.