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Using innovative technology to improve Africa’s digital interconnection capabilities

Using innovative technology to improve Africa’s digital interconnection capabilities

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Africa’s technology capabilities are rapidly progressing and it is largely down to the efforts of companies such as Teraco and Africa Data Centres. We hear how both data centre companies are working to ensure Africa can keep up with Digital Transformation demands in the data centre space and how they are enhancing connectivity across the continent.

Teraco, one of Africa’s largest and most interconnected data centre operators, has boosted regional interconnection with MÉTISS Cable.

MÉTISS is a 3,200 km subsea fibre optic cable system connecting South Africa to the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar, Reunion and Mauritius. The MÉTISS consortium comprises Canal+ Télécom, CEB Fibernet, Emtel, Zeop and SRR (SFR) Telma. The MÉTISS cable lands in Amanzimtoti and is backhauled by Liquid Telecoms to Teraco’s data centre in Durban (DB1).

With MÉTISS, consortium members having infrastructure in both the Teraco Durban (DB1) and Johannesburg (JB1) data centre facilities, the Indian Ocean Islands have direct access to Teraco’s ecosystem of over 300 networks, 130 IT service providers, 50 global content providers and the key global cloud providers, says Michele McCann, Head of Interconnection and Peering at Teraco. The availability of a new cable servicing the Indian Ocean Islands region widens the addressable market for content and cloud providers in South Africa. It adds new resilience to the existing telecommunications infrastructure.

MÉTISS provides global telecoms organisations, multinationals and enterprises with interests in the region with the reliable services and capacities to empower their digital strategies.

Situated on Durban’s north coast, Teraco DB1 is a strategic interconnection hub on the African subsea cable map with access to MÉTISS and the cable systems of Seacom and EASSy that are already accessible from the facility. Teraco’s DB1 facility is connected to the JB1 Campus in Isando, Johannesburg through a wide choice of carriers, via diverse regional fibre routes. It will allow clients to increase the number of partners they connect with and expand their reach into new markets. Teraco’s DB1 facility offers clients secure colocation and interconnection services, as well as the ability to leverage Teraco’s digital hubs in DB1 and JB1 directly.

“The cable brings connectivity across regions that were previously hard to reach. Through Teraco, access to this cable is an interconnect away and in keeping with our tagline, ‘the world connects here’. We are very proud to play such a pivotal role in the success of this cable system,” said McCann. 

Peering at Africa’s largest Internet exchange, NAPAfrica, is now also possible for the island region and brings many benefits: reduced latency; network fault tolerance; reliable exchange of traffic; increased routing control; and improved network performance.

Interconnection and peering successfully addresses a growing need for more bandwidth but at the lowest possible latency. This also needs to be done cost-effectively. The MÉTISS cable system will enable further interconnection within the Indian Ocean Islands region and the growth of its digital economy. Teraco makes it easy and accessible for everyone to connect within the data centre and immediately benefit.

Africa Data Centres is also laying the foundations of a more digital future – particularly in Nigeria – with its recent announcement of its 10MW Lagos Data Centre build.

Nigeria is a key African market, says Stephane Duproz, CEO of Africa Data Centres. “This region is hungry for digitisation and to pave the way for our hyperscale customers to deploy digitisation solutions to West Africa, Africa Data Centres’ construction of a 10-megawatt data centre in Lagos is well underway.

The Lagos build marks a significant step forward in Africa Data Centres’ ambitious long-term strategy to digitise Africa. The Nigerian data centre will form Africa Data Centres’ West African hub. As interconnection remains a priority, the company will be adding it to its network of data centres, which at present includes Johannesburg, Nairobi, Cape Town, Harare and Kigali. 

“Our expansion into Nigeria marks one aspect of the company’s growth on the continent,” said Duproz. “In response to demand generated by hyperscalers, key cloud operators and multinational enterprises already making use of our data centres, we have purchased the Samrand facility in South Africa and our key build in Midrand is underway. These same clients, who have trusted us with their expansions into Kenya and other African territories, have expressed their interest in bringing digitisation at scale to West Africa. Our leadership and best practice in data centre operations have made us the obvious choice in their expansion strategies.”

The creation of a digital hub is the beginning of Digital Transformation capabilities for the region. Naturally, says Duproz, multinational enterprises will wish to be housed under the same roof as our hyperscaler customers due to the lower latency enjoyed. As such, the combination of cloud providers and enterprises make these data centres marketplaces of the ecosystem – and, most importantly, he says, the base for the country’s digital and economic development. Additionally, keeping African data on African soil is another key consideration driving the demand for local data centre facilities. “We are proud to be ensuring that African data stays in Africa,” said Duproz.  

Africa Data Centres has indicated that the Lagos build will spur the economy – creating job opportunities in various sectors. “The stimulus effect to the economy of digitisation is well documented and Nigeria is ready for this technology boon,” said Duproz. “Furthermore, our construction policy is to uplift the community as far as possible, employing local contractors and creating work opportunities within the communities we enter – so the job creation opportunities are realised at both grass-roots and high-tech levels.”

Having secured premium land in Lagos, Africa Data Centres has designed its latest data centre facility in line with environmental best practice, using grey, or non-potable water for cooling and utilising solar energy to offset its reliance on the grid. 

“Digitising the continent at the cost of the environment is not a sacrifice Africa Data Centres is prepared to entertain. Our strategy encompasses empowering and uplifting the people, the environment and the economy,” said Duproz.  

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