Africa Data Centres to open new Cape facility in Q1

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 15 Nov 2023
Tesh Durvasula, CEO of Africa Data Centres.
Tesh Durvasula, CEO of Africa Data Centres.

Africa Data Centres, a subsidiary of the Cassava Technologies Group, says its second Cape Town-based data centre facility will go live in the first quarter of 2024.

The new 20MW facility, which has been under construction for over a year, has signed up new clients, as it enters the final phases of the multimillion-rand project.

Africa Data Centres announced in June 2022 that it had secured land to build a new facility expected to cover 15 000 square metres in eight data halls – situated in Atlantic Hills, on the northern periphery of the Cape Town city centre.

In November 2022, the company said it was preparing the groundwork for the facility − a project it says has driven job creation in the province.

Known as CPT2, it will be the carrier-neutral colocation data centre provider’s fourth data centre in SA, following the establishment of the Midrand (JHB1), Centurion (JHB2) and Elfindale, Cape Town (CPT1) regions.

During an interview on the side-lines of Africa Tech Festival 2023 in Cape Town, Tesh Durvasula, CEO of Africa Data Centres, told ITWeb the project is coming along swiftly, having created hundreds of direct and indirect jobs in the province.

“The Cape Town project is going great. We are going to be opening the facility around the first quarter of 2024. So, we are looking at somewhere between early January and March.

“At the same time, we continue expanding the second Joburg facility (JHB2). However, we are taking the JHB2 project a little bit slower because we still have capacity in Johannesburg.

“The main focus is Cape Town for now, because we are running out of space, as we have done very well over the past 18 months, and we've had really good wins with government as a client and other financial services customers, so we need more capacity here [Cape Town],” explained Durvasula.

Last November, Africa Data Centres announced it had secured an investment of almost R4 billion to expand its two Johannesburg-based data centres from 30MW to 100MW of IT load.

The JHB2 facility is being expanded from 10MW to 40MW. The infrastructure is expected to be fully modular, with all critical plant rooms being prefabricated off-site, he added.

The new Cape Town facility is being built to Africa Data Centres’ new standard modular design, which is already in Johannesburg, and will be deployed across Africa in multiple markets.

The modular design is premised on an edge design, to ensure rapid scalability and a standardised design that enables the data centre to be populated as and when required, he stated.

Cape Town is a prime location for data centres and within easy reach of all the submarine cable landing stations, according to Durvasula.

Preparing for AI boom

Africa Data Centres says it owns and operates Africa’s largest network of interconnected, carrier- and cloud-neutral data centre facilities.

The company forms part of fibre solutions provider Cassava Technologies Group, based across 31 countries, primarily in Eastern, Southern and South Africa, providing mobile operators, carriers, enterprise, media and content companies with high-speed connectivity solutions.

Highlighting Africa Data Centres’ strategy in Africa, Durvasula pointed out the four South African facilities form part of its broader vision. This will see it build more hyperscale data centres across Africa, including in Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco and Egypt, by 2024.

“Africa Data Centres is concentrating on tier one markets and countries with larger GDP, such as Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco. We have announced a region in Ghana and Rwanda, and we will soon be announcing one in Morocco.

“We are focusing on three key vectors: following the GDP of the continent and following the population growth – because we believe population is going to be another big mover in the industry. Thirdly, we are looking at where the 'Top 500' companies are based, many of which are technology, telecoms and artificial intelligence companies.

“If you look at Africa's 500 largest enterprises, 77% of these are within five cities: Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos, Casablanca and Cairo – so they are our immediate target.”

Africa is witnessing an uptick in data centre construction, as more organisations take their workloads to the cloud. Of late, international hyperscalers, like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, have established local data centre regions in SA.

Google has also announced plans to set up a region locally.

With the arrival of several submarine internet cables on South African shores, data centres will be critical in handling the increased data traffic.

“The AI boom that is sweeping the globe has moved from North America to Europe and now it's coming to Africa and so we are preparing for that AI boom. Every market we go to, we make sure that we have enough land to build at least a five-megawatt shell to start with, and we usually have excess land to enable us to scale our business for a capacity of up to 15-megawatts at a later stage,” continued Durvasula.

Discussing sustainability in the CPT2 facility, he added: “This will roughly have three megawatts of solar power daily. We have power utilisation efficiency plans in place and we also have water utilisation efficiency plans.

“Power and water are constrained resources in Africa and lowering emissions and lowering water utilisation is a big goal of Africa Data Centres.”