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South Africa’s data centre boom is good for the economy

The global lockdown imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic has managed to compress a decade of digital transformation into just a few months. People’s perceptions of the infrastructure required to support a new way of life and doing business were also shifted. 

This shift prompted significant investments in the infrastructure that’s required to support this new way of living and working, including data centre investments. Data centres are crucial in ensuring the rapid data interchange that enables this new approach to business. According to research, South Africa’s data centre market will see investments of around R47-billion by 2026.

The data centre market in South Africa has seen significant investment in recent years, with several prominent companies declaring intentions to develop new facilities. Teraco and Africa Data Centres, for example, have invested or plan to invest billions of rands in new data centres in South Africa.

Vantage Data Centres is currently building a R15-billion hyperscale data centre campus in Waterfall, Gauteng. Hyperscale data centres are larger and more complex than traditional data centres, allowing them to apply custom engineering to provide much better performance for mega data users.

In September 2021, Africa Data Centres also announced a significant investment in the South African market. The company is investing R7.2-billion in the construction of hyperscale data centres across Africa, including one in South Africa. Teraco Data Environments built a multi-billion rand data centre in Cape Town shortly after Africa Data Centres’ announcement. It is the largest facility of its kind in the Western Cape.

Teraco’s multi-billion rand data centre in Cape Town

CT2 is a 25 000 square metre building with 8000 square metres of data hall space and 18MW of critical power load. It is connected to all other Teraco-owned data systems via a web of network operators.

Vantage Data Centres’ hyperscale data centre campus

Vantage Data Centers, one of the world’s leading hyperscale data centre specialists, announced its R15-billion investment in South Africa, which will be the largest of its kind on the continent once completed. In October 2021, Vantage Data Centres announced that construction on the Waterfall data centre had commenced, with the first phase of the 80MW campus planned to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2022.

The carrier-neutral campus will be comprised of three facilities spread across a 12-hectare property. When fully constructed, it will include 60 000 square metres of data centre space. Johannesburg, according to Vantage EMEA president Antoine Boniface, is a data centre hotspot on the continent because of its strategic location, IT ecosystem, fibre connectivity and access to renewable energy sources.

Africa Data Centres Samrand facility

This data centre has enough power and space for significant expansion and it is widely considered as Africa’s most reputable facility. According to former Africa Data Centres CEO Stephane Duproz, “The unique combination of this outstanding facility with Africa Data Centres’ certified operational excellence makes it the ideal choice for the most demanding organisations, particularly those in the financial services sector”.

As evidenced above, the data centre and cloud industry attract significant foreign direct investment. Since data centres are part of a unique logistics chain that includes everything from internet exchanges to hosting and cloud providers to consulting firms and fibre optic suppliers, they also produce a significant amount of jobs.

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Written by Taryn Hill

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