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Nairobi gets new data centre

Africa Data Centres has broken ground on a new facility at the Sameer Business Park.

Africa Data Centres (ADC) has broken ground on a new facility at the Sameer Business Park in Nairobi. The expansion will be completed in the first half of 2024 and will bring five times more capacity than is currently installed. It will expand ADC’s existing data centre capacity by up to 15MW.

“We believe that data centres will play a significant role in digital transformation and economic growth on our continent,” says Hardy Pemhiwa, group president and CEO of Cassava Technologies, ADC’s holding company. “Without them, the push towards a digital economy in Africa will be missing a key pillar. Our decision to increase our investment in our data centres in Kenya is in recognition of the position the country now occupies as a leader in the adoption of digital technologies in Africa”.

During a ground-breaking ceremony, ADC CEO Tesh Durvasula said: “The expansion will enable ADC clients to grow and scale depending on their requirements. They can start small, increase to a medium capacity, and even benefit from a hyperscale type of deployment in a few years if they choose to. This will enable customers to operate multiple deployments across our sites with a single operations team, campus, and infrastructure they are familiar with.” 

Kenya is the country that pioneered mobile money, and today boasts of a wide range of incubators and tech startups, a clear sign of an innovative tech culture, says ADC. The focus on Kenya as a key region aims to take the region further into the digital era and uplift the country’s profile globally as an attractive investment destination for international cloud providers, hyperscalers, and other ICT companies.

The new data facility will begin with 5MW of IT load and will be built in ADC’s modular design, an innovative approach that sees the entire facility, including all critical plant rooms, prefabricated off-site. This ensures the highest possible quality, while local contractors will still benefit from contracts to lay foundations, assemble, and complete the build.

Durvasula says that sustainability is at the heart of everything ADC does. In terms of cooling, as the largest network of interconnected, carrier- and cloud-neutral data centre facilities on the continent, ADC has a strict policy of not using adiabatic systems (a process in which no heat transfer takes place).

“We do not use water in any of our cooling systems and are one of the few colocation providers who have taken this step,” he said. “With the newest technology, if free-cooling capacity is maximised, it becomes far more efficient and saves water, which is becoming a critical commodity, particularly in Africa.”

He said that, in Kenya, almost 70% of grid power is from green energy sources.

“This helps us to meet our sustainability objectives because we understand no organisation can achieve zero carbon emissions by itself. We understand that sustainability is about ensuring that we conduct ourselves in a manner that minimises our impact on the environment. We extend this ethos to all of our partners, and constantly look for ways to ensure that all elements of the business contribute positively to the sustainability of the planet.”

The company’s expansion plans announced in 2021 will see ADC investing $500-million into building hyperscale data centres across Africa, with the support of the US Development Finance Corporation.

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