African data centre market in the midst of an 'unprecedented growth surge'

African commercial hosting capacity expected to triple over the next five years, to support explosive data traffic flows and accelerated adoption of cloud services.

The African data center market is in the midst of a remarkable growth surge, according to new research released by Xalam Analytics, a digital infrastructure investment consultancy. African data center providers have spent a cumulative US$2bn in building data center facilities since 2017, bringing to market more than 200MW of fresh commercial IT load capacity, more than over the entire previous decade.

The analysis was contained in “The African Data Center Gigawatt”, a new research released at the Africa Tech festival 2022, Africa’s largest telecoms and technology event.

While still of moderate size compared to other regions, The African market has been one of the world’s fastest growing for commercial data center deployments.

Guy Zibi, Managing Director at Xalam Analytics said “This research puts some substance into what we have been witnessing. The African data center market is entering the high-growth phase of its evolution cycle, a phase reflected by massive expansion as hyperscale cloud markets densify and demand in some larger economies starts to live up to presumptive potential.”

Such an expansion inevitably comes with its own set of questions, and there have been many – around overbuild risk, true demand potential, edge computing or sustainability in the face of power and water shortages.

While challenges persist, the potential seems irrepressible, and the report asserts there is more growth coming. “We are projecting live commercial IT load to nearly triple from 2021 levels”, the report notes; “the size of this market is now doubling every three years, a growth surge that is reflective of Africa’s transition from the age of broadband to the age of cloud, and the scale of local hosting capacity needed to support it.”

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