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June 19, 2021
Economics

Infiltrating Data Centres In The Horn Of Africa (Abigail Opiah)

(Anthony Voscarides, CEO of Djibouti Data Center)
A wise person once said, ‘With great risk often comes great reward’. It has been said that this quote resonates heavily when the thought of investing in the African data centre market arises. With over 1.2 billion people distributed across 54 countries on the continent, Anthony Voscarides, CEO of Djibouti Data Center reveals to Abigail Opiah that there is a lot of money in investing in Africa.

However, it is not as straight forward as it seems, as he explains that Africa does not get the same attraction as other markets across the globe due to a number of different factors including regulation and previous bad history. “Investing in Africa is a matter of choosing a partner that has delivered in Africa.

There has been a lot of people that have been burnt because they don’t know the African market well enough, so choosing the right partner is essential to enter the market. There is a lot of risk but also a lot of reward,” he explains.

“My prediction for Africa in the next five to ten years is that the big data centre players like Equinix will enter Africa through some of the key markets, but as of right now, for them, this is a very small business, as they are working at hyperscale levels.

“To reach this kind of level in Africa, we are still a few years away. What I believe they will do is just acquire a party to get traction on the ground to start building their own facilities.

It is inevitable that Arica will have a similar density of data centres as Europe because of IoT, how things are changing, the collection of data and how important that is to the government in Africa and all around the world.”

DJIBOUTI FACILITY

The Djibouti data centre was not his first project in the data centre area, but his first in Africa. The project initially started when Voscarides visited Djibouti back in 2009 to assess the possibility.

“Djibouti is a small country that has 11 cable systems attached to it, which makes it look like it is almost a net holding up a small country because it has so many cables going in. That is the direct result of the Djibouti telecoms and their government. By putting in all these cables, it put Djibouti on the map from a telecoms perspective,” he explains.

“However, it didn’t have a data centre. Thus, after lots of effort, they approved for us to enter the market in partnership with an internationally owned and local shareholders owned company. We were granted a licence to operate as a data centre, and started building around 2010, and by 2013, the facility was ready.”

He adds that once the facility launched, the company was in high demand, which made the facility profitable within the first year of operation.

“This is a small data centre in comparison to the hyperscale facilities you seen in Western countries and even in South Africa. The cost of energy in Djibouti is quite high, but given its location, enterprises have access to routes that only Djibouti has, for example to Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Somalia amongst others,” says Voscarides.

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