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Equinix fuels SA data centre market with R2.8bn investment

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 13 Dec 2022

Digital infrastructure company Equinix is set to become the latest player to enter SA’s burgeoning data centre market, announcing a $160 million (R2.8 billion) investment in a new data centre.

The data centre, to be located in Johannesburg, is expected to open in mid-2024, according to Equinix, which was founded in Silicon Valley in 1998.

In a statement, Equinix says the investment augments its current footprint on the African continent in Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. In April, the company acquired Nigeria’s MainOne, its first step onto the African continent.

“We entered the African continent earlier this year with the acquisition of MainOne, the leading West African data centre and connectivity solutions provider, with presence in Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire,” says Eugene Bergen, president of EMEA Equinix.

“This investment will give both South African businesses the opportunity to expand internationally and global businesses to expand into South Africa.

“Both will be able to accelerate their growth by rapidly scaling their infrastructure, easily adopting hybrid multi-cloud architectures and interconnecting with business partners through the Platform Equinix ecosystem of more than 10 000 customers.”

The global reach of Platform Equinix with operations in SA.
The global reach of Platform Equinix with operations in SA.

Over the last few years, Africa has seen a meteoric rise in data centres, with SA hosting over 50 active data centre locations by June 2022, according to a study by law firm DLA Piper in SA.

This, as data demand and cloud adoption continue to cause a dramatic surge in traffic.

IDC estimates public cloud services adoption in Sub-Saharan Africa will accelerate at a compound annual growth rate of 25% year-on-year between 2020 and 2025, with this momentum expected to continue.

The booming demand for data centre access on the African continent, and specifically South Africa, has seen Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Africa Data Centres, Acronis, Oracle and Dimension Data, among others, opening data centres on local shores.

In October, US-based internet search giant Google confirmed its intent to establish a new Google Cloud region in South Africa – its first on the continent.

With its South Africa expansion, Equinix notes it is entering one of the largest and most digitally-developed nations on the African continent.

According to the company, the new 4.0MW data centre, JN1, will provide 690-plus cabinets and more than 20 000 gross square feet of colocation space.

It also reveals that two additional phases of development are planned. “The fully completed 20.0MW premium retail campus will provide 3 450+ cabinets and more than 100 000 gross square feet of colocation space.”

According to Equinix, it is seeking out sustainable and reliable sources of energy for this new data centre as is customary when it enters a new market.

“While the exploration for sustainable and reliable sources of energy continues, this new facility is expected to feature many unique sustainable attributes, including hyper-efficient cooling with outside air economisation using minimal water, allowing us to limit our carbon footprint and maintain energy-efficient operations with industry-leading PUEs [power usage effectiveness].”

The current Platform Equinix footprint spans six continents, 32 countries, 70-plus markets, and over 245 International Business Exchange and xScale data centres.