Strong Fundamentals Bode Well for Africa’s Digitalisation Drive-Report

Communication and Digitalisation Minister, Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful-

A new focus report, produced by Oxford Business Group (OBG) in partnership with the Africa Data Centres Association (ADCA), highlights the opportunities for investors to help establish an ICT ecosystem that will be key in driving the continent’s economic transformation.

Titled “Data Centres in Africa Focus Report”, the publication explores the urgent need for more facilities offering these services to be rolled out against a backdrop of rising demand from industry players operating in the region’s increasingly digitised economy and significant capacity shortfalls.

With competition for investment set to be fierce in the post-pandemic era, the study analyses Africa’s strengths, led by its rapidly growing, youthful, internet-connected population.

It notes that since most Africans access the internet via mobile devices, the continent may well be able to bypass some of the traditional stages of industrial development in its uptake of new technologies.

Subscribers will also find in-depth coverage of the benefits that the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area is expected to deliver by reducing red tape for investors eyeing intra-regional opportunities in ICT.

The report maps out the hot spots already attracting interest from data centre (DC) operators, noting the part they are expected to play in driving market expansion and helping key economies close the gap on South Africa, the continental leader.

It shines a spotlight on several individual markets, while tracking steps taken by a number of African governments to draw up digital-first policy agendas in moves that are expected to galvanise growth and create jobs.

The report includes a contribution from Ayotunde Coker, Chairman, African Data Centres Association (ADCA) and CEO of Rack Center, in which he explains why the time is ripe for the DC industry to scale up across the continent.

“The region has demonstrated its ability to innovate and technologically leapfrog mature markets: it happened with telephony, and it is happening with financial technology and countless other technological innovations,” he said.

“A large, young population, combined with growing network penetration, is expanding access to higher-speed telephony. Mobile telephony will remain the dominant access point to the internet across Africa, where consumers continue to buy products and consume content primarily via mobile phones. As a result, we are seeing strong fundamentals that favour Africa as a destination for data centres.”

Karine Loehman, OBG’s Managing Director for Africa, said that with the Covid-19 pandemic having accelerated digitalisation, efforts were underway to attract the investment needed to unlock the continent’s full digital potential, with areas such as ICT upskilling and infrastructure rollouts seen as priorities.

“Digital technology is expected to play a multifaceted role in steering Africa’s economic development, helping to improve its competitiveness, facilitate the overhaul of public services and strengthen food security,” she said.

“Our research confirms that investors are already giving Africa’s digital economy an injection of the capital required, despite the somewhat challenging environment. With broadband internet access seen as a key enabler of the digital economy and still lacking across much of Africa, we expect demand for DC services to gather momentum in the medium term.”

The “Data Centres in Africa – Focus Report” represents a collaboration with the ADCA. It includes in-depth case studies and viewpoints by representatives from key industry players namely: Starline; the African Infrastructure Investment Managers; ONIX Data Centre; PCCW Global; ST Digital; Teraco; Databridge; MainOne; N+One; Uptime Institute; Workonline Communications; Galaxy Backbone; Raxio Group; Rack Centre; CBRE; and IxAfrica.

The study on Africa’s DC industry forms part of a series of tailored reports that OBG is currently producing with its partners, alongside other highly relevant, go-to research tools, including a range of country-specific Growth and Recovery Outlook articles and interviews.

BFT online