Chances are your data is somewhere in a galaxy far, far away. But not for long. Not with African Data Centres’intention to bring African data to Africa. This is important because as consumers of Facebook, Google, Microsoft and all the big boys in technology, we are consuming services out of Africa.
Mainly in the UK, Europe and the US. Dan Kwach, the MD of African Data Centres says, “This is a compelling reason to set base in Africa. Take a look at the Data Protection Laws. Who owns our data? There is a universal preference that this data should be kept within our borders. That way, there is a legal framework to address any breach.”
It does raise the question – surely there must be SOME data that is home, right? It turns out, yes. Africa’s data is now largely in Africa.
But there is another reason to thank the big guns in tech. ADC is primarily viewed as one of the two hyperscale data centres in Africa. One is regional, the other in Johannesburg. There are plans underway to expand facilities in Nigeria, DRC and Northern Africa.
Kwach says there are negotiations at a very advanced stage with the big names so that ADC can host their data. It establishes not just intent to stay put, but to also do business within the country and possibly, region. “There is a big push for them to have their loads in Africa. They come to us because we are most connected, with over 20 banking institutions in our data centre facilities.”
ADC was the first to build a Tier 3 data centre from the ground up and according to international standards as early as 2009 – 2011, becoming operational in 2012. Uptime Institute – think of them as the people who grade data centres – benchmarked them as a Tier 3 data centre. Considering when it was constructed, ADC is a marvel of technological engineering.
It is a chicken or egg question. Do we demonstrate the capacity to the hyperscalers by building it so they will come, or do we let them come in, then work with them?
For technical resilience, they must never exceed 8 minutes of downtime. “Redundancies make sure there’s no downtime beyond 99.982 per cent. That is a threshold of 8 minutes. We have been able to achieve 100 per cent finally after a long time.” And in the process of simply being them and doing business, they systematically and solidly created a solid data centre ecosystem that is attracting the hyperscalers.
From Kwach’s description of his day-to-day, he is a CIO wrapped in a COO cocoon tied into a CEO knot. His biggest challenge, he says, is not talent. For that, there is a mix of global and local brilliant minds that gives ADC a “unique African flavour.”
Instead, it is finding the right mix in getting shareholders ready for capacity for hyperscalers. “It is a chicken or egg question. Do we demonstrate the capacity to the hyperscalers by building it so they will come, or do we let them come in, then work with them?” In case you are wondering, there is plenty of room.
A report by Xalam Analytics, stated that East Africa, especially Kenya, demand 150 MW of data centre space. “We are not even at 10 per cent capacity in Kenya,” Kwach clarifies.
To tap deeper into Dan Kwach’s mind, attend the Cloud & Security Summit on 22 and 23 October 2020.
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