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Local data centers key to digital adoption

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By Abraham Adekunle

With rise in internet penetration, Africa on the brink of data center boom.

Nigeria’s technological advancement has come a long way after the Telecommunication boom era of the 2000s. Decades after the influx of old, radio-like antenna phones, Nigeria can now boast of much digital adoption. Digital adoption is the process of learning how to use new Technology so that users can take advantage of its full potential. This has been ongoing for several years now in the form of migrating from the offline model of office files to online user services. For instance, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has migrated fully online so that anyone can register a business name or a limited liability company without leaving their comfort of the home.

This comes with a lot of requirements for storage. When an organization migrates their services online, in a sense, they are still offline, but the way to access their services is via the internet. However, all their files are stored in a physical computer from where users all over the world can connect to it. This physical computer, which is usually found among many others, is known as a Data Center, processing center, data service center or data handling center. Usually, because of the cost of running the computers where files are stored, businesses do not have their own data centers. Instead, they contract out the job to a hosting service company, which specializes in doing that for businesses and organizations.

Many organizations still hosted outside of Nigeria.

A data center is a facility that provides shared access to applications and data using a complex network, computer, and storage Infrastructure. Data centers vary in size, from a small server room all the way up to groups of geographically distributed buildings, but they have one common feature: they are where companies often invest in and deploy the latest advancements in data center networking, computer and storage technologies. Despite the existence of tier-three data centers locally in Nigeria, several organizations still host their data outside the country.

Dr. Krish Ranganath, the regional executive for African Data Centres (ADC) and expert with decade-old experience in global ICT sector, said in an interview with the press that the industry in Nigeria needs to engage with local organizations and drive conversations about why using local centers is better. Nigeria has embarked on its digital transformation journey, but governance needs to run through the full stack, from infrastructure, to cloud, to connectivity. For this dynamic to be accelerated and to succeed, an info center needs to be the initial point of access for any broad-based digital adoption and transformation strategy.

More users in Africa access public cloud-based services.

Internet penetration rates have risen and has led to an increase in the demand for processing centers across Africa. The continent has begun to catch up with its counterparts all over the globe. Presently, Africa accounts for less than one percent of the world’s co-location processing center supply. A bulk of Africa’s capacity is found in South Africa. In spite of this, more customers in Africa are using data centers to access public cloud-based services from hosts such as AWS, Google and Microsoft. Hence, a significant wave of Investment in this industry is expected to manifest across Africa soon.

Regional economic powerhouses such as South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria will experience this first before other markets such as Ghana and Morocco, which are also attracting international investment. This growth is being driven partly by advances in connectivity and data consumption, especially as smartphone penetration grows on the continent. Also, as Broadband penetration increases, download speeds are rising rapidly. This is in turn boosting data consumption. Undersea Cables have dramatically increased broadband capacity as well. All these are crucial to the success of local data handling centres.

The worldwide move to adopt cloud services is alive in the region.

There is an increase in the adoption of cloud services in the region. More organizations are migrating their data and processes off physical premises into hosted and other third-party info centers. There seems to be a pattern of adoption in the region, which is geared toward the move to host data closer to where it is ultimately used. This is fueled by data protection regulations, issues of data residency and sovereignty, and the need to lower latency to enable better content streaming and other functions.


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