Report Highlights Importance of ICT Ecosystem for Economic Transformation


Emma Okonji

A new focus report, produced by Oxford Business Group (OBG) in partnership with the Africa Data Centres Association (ADCA), highlights the opportunities for investors to help establish an ICT ecosystem that will be key in driving the continent’s economic transformation.

Titled, “Data Centres in Africa Focus Report,” the publication explores the urgent need for more facilities offering these services to be rolled out against a backdrop of rising demand from industry players operating in the region’s increasingly digitised economy and significant capacity shortfalls.

With competition for investment set to be fierce in the post-pandemic era, the study analysed Africa’s strengths, led by its rapidly growing, youthful, internet-connected population. It noted that since most Africans access the internet via mobile devices, the
continent may well be able to bypass some of the traditional stages of industrial development in its uptake of new technologies.

Subscribers will also find in-depth coverage of the benefits that the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area is expected to deliver by reducing red tape for investors eyeing intra-regional opportunities in Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

The report maps out the hot spots already attracting interest from data centre operators, noting the part they are expected to play in driving market expansion and helping key economies close the gap on South Africa, the continental leader.

It shines a spotlight on several individual markets, while tracking steps taken by a number of African governments to draw up digital-first policy agendas in moves that are expected to galvanise growth and create jobs.

The report includes a contribution from the Chairman, African Data Centres Association (ADCA) and CEO of Rack Center, Ayotunde Coker, from Nigeria, in which he explains why the time is ripe for the data centre industry to scale up across the continent.

“The region has demonstrated its ability to innovate and technologically leapfrog mature markets: it happened with telephony, and it is happening with financial technology and countless other technological innovations,” Coker said.

“A large, young population, combined with growing network penetration, is expanding access to higher-speed telephony. Mobile telephony will remain the dominant access point to the internet across Africa, where consumers continue to buy products and consume content primarily via mobile phones. As a result, we are seeing strong fundamentals that favour Africa as a destination for data centres,” he added.

OBG’s Managing Director for Africa, Karine Loehman, said with the COVID-19 pandemic having accelerated digitalisation, efforts were under way to attract the investment needed to unlock the continent’s full digital potential, with areas such as ICT up-skilling and infrastructure rollouts seen as priorities.