Shot in arm for comms sector as digital demand surges

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MTBPS 2021: Often touted as one of the sectors key to economic growth, National Treasury data shows the communications sector is among those that recorded gains during the first half of the year.

In terms of sector performance and outlook, the 2021 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) reveals the transport, storage and communication sectors grew by 4.2% in the first half of the year, relative to the first half of 2020.

In the communications sector, the MTBPS says the recovery was supported by increased demand for digital services.

In addition, the MTBPS notes that in telecommunications, work is under way to standardise and improve processes for applications to use property in rolling out towers and fibre to expand digital communications infrastructure. “This work will be finalised by October 2022,” it states.

However, the Treasury document points to some risk-posing factors to this growth, identifying the return of protracted load-shedding and further lockdowns.

In the case of storage, there’s been a lot of investment activity in Africa’s data centre ecosystem over the course of the last two years.

In South Africa, for example, the country has increasingly become a data centre hub, with hyperscalers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft already having established data centre regions in SA.

Earlier this month, US-based provider of hyperscale data centres, Vantage Data Centres, announced the beginning of construction on its new R15 billion state‐of‐the‐art data centre campus in the country.

Likewise, US-based multinational Oracle revealed it is set to build a data centre facility in Johannesburg – its first on the African continent.

Locally, systems integrator Dimension Data is building its own data centre, while carrier- and cloud-neutral co-location data centre solutions provider, Teraco, recently announced the completion of the first phase of the Cape Town two data centre on top of its portfolio of data centre facilities in SA. Teraco’s investment is valued at R4.4 billion.

Last year, German start-up CloudRadar also launched data centre facilities in Johannesburg.

Data centre service providers are also expecting an increase in data traffic as a result of more submarine communications cables coming to Africa. Google’s Equiano cable and Facebook’s 2Africa cable are two of the submarine cables expected to boost connectivity in Africa.

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