Access to affordable, reliable and environmentally sustainable sources of electricity is a pressing issue for the growing number of Data Centre operators across Africa.
These facilities need to ensure a high availability of power to mitigate downtime, but many African countries face frequent power outages. Existing Data Centres have relied on diesel-fuelled generators to sustain operations during power outages, a practice that could exacerbate carbon emissions in the future. Indeed, the deployment of hyperscale Data Centre capacity is expected to increase emissions through further diesel-generator utilisation.
In a recently published focus report by Oxford Business Group titled “Data Centres in Africa”, the CEO of MainOne, Funke Opeke opined that power distribution networks are facing frequent shortages, but there is an adequate supply of electricity in the region’s national grids. “By strategically locating our Data Centres close to sources of power and partnering with local power distribution companies to build direct connections to the national grid, we ensure high power availability and reduce the utilisation of diesel-fuelled power generation at our facilities” she states.
MainOne has increased the capacity of its Data Centres, which reached 5 MW in the key markets of Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, with services delivered to a total of 10 countries across West Africa. Its data centre subsidiary, MDXi, runs energy-efficient facilities by optimising airflow, using sensors and artificial intelligence to manage operations, and installing energy-efficient hardware. Taken together, these actions go a long way towards reducing the carbon footprint and improving energy efficiency for the sustainability of its Data Centres.
Following the launch of its Tier III Data Centre in Appolonia City in Accra, Ghana earlier in the year, MDXi has commenced the expansion of its Lekki data center in Lagos, Nigeria, with the goal of increasing its 600-rack facility to over 1200 racks by 2023. Further investments have also been directed towards the expansion for its Data Centre in Côte d’Ivoire.
Africa is experiencing some of the fastest growth in internet access seen around the world, largely due to its young population. As such, data consumption will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. This will fuel further investment in submarine cables and Data Centres to bring data closer to consumers. However, without sustainable power strategies, the industry will continue to contribute to global warming in a region that can least afford the consequences.