[Africa Tech Review] Duncan Mochama: Africa’s data centre market poised for massive growth
Africa’s data centre market is poised for massive growth this year as internet penetration rates rise and the continent begins to play catch-up with other regions. For the time being, Africa accounts for less than 1% of the world’s co-location data centre supply, with South Africa accounting for the bulk of the continent’s capacity. Nina Triantis the Global Head of Telecoms, Media & Technology at Standard Bank, in a column we published this week however notes that we should expect to see a substantial wave of data centre investments materialise across the continent, led by regional economic powerhouses including South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.
This week, TERACO announced that the ACE submarine cable is now live and available for interconnection at three of its data centres across South Africa, expanding access to broadband connectivity and digital services in Africa. Vodacom Business announced a new partnership with Digital Parks Africa, a provider of wholesale data centres for large-scale data centre needs, to further support its clients’ off-premise data centre requirements while offering the highest IT standards and services.
Still, in South Africa, Minim, Inc. the creator of innovative internet access products, announced that Vox has chosen its AI-driven cloud software platform, mobile app, and customer care portal to underpin the Vox Wi-Fi Home Manager. Kaspersky and ownCloud announced the start of their technology partnership to integrate Kaspersky Scan Engine with the ownCloud Enterprise collaboration platform.
African fintechs were also in the news this week. South African fintech startup, Ukheshe Technologies entered into a new joint venture with ForexPeople, to seamlessly facilitate cross-border payments from South Africa into Africa. In Ghana, Fintech startup Zeepay, announced the completion of a USD7.9 million Series A.0 funding. The funding is a hybrid of both equity and balance sheet funds to support its operations. Visa also hosted its 2021 Visa Africa Innovation for Inclusion Summit where it highlighted key innovation capabilities that will drive financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa. Cellulant, the Pan-African payments company, unveiled its new brand identity and affirmed its commitment to partner with global, regional and local businesses to accelerate Payments’ digitisation across Africa. Carbon, the Pan-African fintech company providing access to basic financial services for Africans, announced a strategic five-year partnership with Visa, to offer both digital and physical issuance of Visa cards to its customers.
On matters telcos, The African Telecommunications Union (ATU) this week signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with tech giant Huawei that will see African countries and organizations build capacity for ICT transformation. Together with the African Network Information Centre (AFRINIC) they also signed an MOU aimed at jointly undertaking research and building the capacity of African Governments and ICT regulators for enhanced broadband development in Africa. In Kenya, the country’s leading teclo Safaricom announced that more than 1.3 million customers have downloaded the new M-PESA Super App since it was introduced in December last year. In South Africa, Vodacom entered into a partnership with the Wholesale and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority (W&RSETA) and eight institutions of higher learning to provide 500 post-graduate training and internship opportunities for young graduates, who face the grim prospect of unemployment. Eutelsat Communications and Vox, an end-to-end integrated ICT and infrastructure provider and telecommunications company, also reached a multi-year distribution agreement to extend high-speed network connectivity to South Africa. Vodacom unveiled VodaPay 'Super App' to be a game-changer for driving financial inclusion and economic growth in South Africa.
As part of the five-year collaboration with MTN, Tecnotree announced that it will deploy its Digital BSS Suite 5 to help accelerate the operator’s business growth, increase agility and boost operational efficiency.
We also covered some startup news this week. South African delivery startup Picup introduced a new model for branded deliveries where its drivers become the face of any specific brand. At the same time, the startup also introduced a premium service aimed at businesses that require drivers to represent their brand. Global inclusive tech accelerator Catalyst Fund, managed by BFA Global, formally announced its Circle of Corporate Innovators, with its first members, Fidelity Bank, Ecobank, Sterling Bank, Access Bank and the VFD Group. Orange Ventures, Orange’s venture capital investment subsidiary, announced it is investing in the media company Brut. as one of the main investors in a series C funding round of 75 million dollars.
Other top highlights of the week include MultiChoice Group appointing Duma Collective as its lead Creative Communications agency and SoftBank and Smart Africa entering a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to collaborate on innovative solutions towards achieving the vision of providing affordable broadband.