by Marc Ferranti

New Raxio data centres signal demand for SaaS, cloud tech in sub-Sahara

News Analysis
Mar 10, 2021
Cloud ComputingData CenterSaaS

As businesses and government entities throughout sub-Saharan Africa accelerate plans for digital transformation and adoption of cloud technology, data centre developers and operators are rushing to meet demand.

A binary matrix overlays a network / datacenter / server room.
Credit: Vladimir Timofeev / Getty Images

As enterprises throughout sub-Saharan Africa accelerate adoption of SaaS (software as a service) applications and cloud-related technology, data centre operators and developers are rushing to meet demand. The latest provider to announce construction of new facilities in the region is Raxio Group, which plans to open a data centre in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) next year, followed by additional facilities throughout Africa in the coming years.

 The news comes on the heels of recent announcements by Teraco Data Environments and Wingu Africa, for new hyperscale data centres in South Africa and Ethiopia, respectively.

Raxio’s new data centre in the DRC will be built in Kinshasa and commissioned in the second quarter of 2022, and will be the first of 10 to 12 new facilities that the company expects to build. Raxio did not give a precise timeframe for the other new data centres, though it said it expects to build additional facilities in the DRC in the coming years, including a second one in Kinshasa and one in Lubumbashi in the Katanga region.

Raxio Kinshasa, as the first new data centre is called, will be a 1.5MW, 400-rack facility — the country’s first carrier-neutral, Tier III data centre. The data centre will offer caging, AC/DC power compatibility and redundancy in a 99.982% uptime environment, the company said.

“Internet traffic continues to grow exponentially in the DRC, with a doubling of daily traffic in the last year alone,” said Raxio President Robert Mullins in a press release. “Our data centres will facilitate internet traffic amongst content providers locally and internationally and make the internet experience faster, more resilient, and more affordable for all digital users.”

Raxio Kinshasa will be smaller than the facilities announced by Teraco and Wingu, which will offer capacities of 22MW and 38MW, respectively. But there is a need for facilities of all sizes throughout the sub-Saharan region.

What is a metro-edge data centre?

Raxio says the new Kinshasa facility will be built on “metro-edge” principles. Metro-edge is a term generally used to mean data centres built primarily for service-provider customers to deliver content, provide cloud services and offer SaaS in locations that are underserved by traditional data-centre giants. These data centres offer facilities for carriers and other service providers to exchange traffic near cities and other population centres, using hybrid multicloud architecture.

Raxio specified that its ambitious construction plans were developed to meet increased demand for high-quality local storage and data hosting in the region. Raxio Kinshasa customers will be able to cross-connect with local and international carriers and other customers, and take advantage of a shared infrastructure model to reduce costs, the company said.

More broadly, there are a variety of reasons why private enterprises and government agencies are turning to third-party data centres, SaaS, and cloud technology. “African banks are making investments in machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to improve the customer experience and credit risk; new digital banks are emerging, that are, at least in part, cloud-based,” according to Research and Markets. “Governments are using cloud and virtualized infrastructure to enhance public service delivery. Large retail firms are using compute capabilities and AWS databases to transform how they reach a predominantly mobile and digital customer base.”

Raxio Kinshasa will be the third data centre built by Raxio on the continent, including Raxio Uganda, outside of Kampala, and Raxio Ethiopia, where construction started earlier this year in Addis Ababa.