FG Urged to Invest in Data Centres to Boost Economy


Emma Okonji

Uptime Institute, a US based advisory organisation with focus on efficiency and reliability of business critical infrastructure through innovation, collaboration, and independent certifications, has called on the Nigerian government to consider investing in data centre design, construction and management, if the country must achieve her desire of attracting further foreign investments into the county.

The Director, Business Development for Uptime Institute, Lilia Severina, who made the call in Lagos during her recent visit to Nigeria to organise training for data centre management and certification, expressed her displeasure that the federal and state governments in Nigeria, like other African countries, do not invest in data centre, which she said, remained a key factor to quick digitalisation that would boost economies.

“I have come to realise that in Nigeria governments do not invest in data centres and it is only proper for governments at all levels of the federation to invest in data centre projects in order it stimulate digital growth among the citizens. Government should also make funds available for design and construction of data centres, because the data centres, when developed, will drive digital growth in the country,” Severina said.

According to her, “Africans and Nigerians are highly enterprising and they are ready to explore new and better ways of doing business, but the truth is that they need to do business in a more digitilised way because the globe has gone digital. If Nigerians are equipped with digital tools, they will be able to do their own international trade and bring dollars into the Nigerian economy to improve the economy.”

Nigeria needs to invest in data centres to attract foreign investment and this is one way to boost the Nigerian economy. Investors in today’s digital era are interested in investing their money, but they are looking for countries with sufficient data centres through which they could track and manage their investments and have better returns on investments. They are slow to invest in countries with insufficient data centres. If there are sufficient government controlled data centres in Nigeria, global organisations like Amazon, E-Bay, Google, would like to invest in the country, she told THISDAY in an interview.

Again, it is not enough for government to leave data centre design and development in the hands of the private sector. Government has to lead the initiative and create the necessary business environment for businesses to thrive. Government needs to create innovation hubs that will be managed by government itself because there are lots of international funds that the county can access, if she invests in government controlled data centres. These funds are there and they are not being accessed by African countries because probably they think they will not get good returns on investment from data centre projects.

She however strongly advised that the Nigerian government should give substantial grants to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs), and fresh university graduates that have shown the zeal and commitment to digital business. The money will help them set up digital businesses for themselves, become employers of labour and at the same time, contribute to the Nigerian economy.
Government can also invest in data centre and open them up to small businesses at discounted rates, because the more small businesses are empowered in the country, the better for the government and the economy, Severina said.

Analysing the possibilities of developing a Tier IV Data Centre in Nigeria, Severina said it would be possible if government and the private sector are determined to do so. According to her, South Africa, through one of its banks, has developed Tier IV Data Centre and the Uptime Institute is currently partnering the government of Botswana to build a Tier IV Data Centre in that country. In many countries of the world, government invests in data centre projects that address issues in areas like health, education, eCommerce among others, and they would need returns on investments because they do not want to waste tax payers’ money, which they have invested in the data centres.

When government invests in data centres, they offer services to SMEs at reduced cost and with that, government can empower several of its citizens. She insisted that government must be involved in data centre projects, because they are capital intensive, costing over $20 million to set up a standard data centre.