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8 - 12 November 2021
Virtual Event

8 - 12 November 2021
Virtual Event

Data Centres & Cloud Computing

Exploring the biggest opportunities in Africa’s booming cloud and data centre space

One thing unites Africa’s digital transformation journeys and the diverse range of industries relying on them – data, more specifically the facility to collect, store and analyse increasingly vast amounts of it. Digital growth in Africa has driven a sustained expansion in the number and capacity of data centres, but, at current rates, the continent is still lagging far behind what it will need for the future.

About the topic

One thing unites Africa’s digital transformation journeys and the diverse range of industries relying on them – data, more specifically the facility to collect, store and analyse increasingly vast amounts of it. Digital growth in Africa has driven a sustained expansion in the number and capacity of data centres, but, at current rates, the continent is still lagging far behind what it will need for the future. 

Data centre white space is now 2.5x higher than it was 10 years ago but the trickle of expansion will need to become a constant flow to fill the continent’s forecasted 1GW gap. 

The pursuit of equitable digital economies by Africa’s nations is driving unprecedented demand for data centre space and, with accelerated connectivity efforts, this demand is only likely to accelerate. 

Across this digital agenda, we’ll explore the biggest issues affecting data centres in Africa, viable solutions, and how providers are exploring where technology and strategy can combine to improve efficiency and capacity of facilities, into what the next 10 years holds for the sector.

Key sessions include:

AI-informed solutions to more efficient data centres

On-Prem, Cloud & Hybrid: The future of African data

  • Adoption: What is the current state of adoption of cloud services on the African continent, who is deploying the technology? Where and how?

  • One size fits none: Unpacking Africa’s changing user demands - the merits of cloud vs traditional ‘on-premises’ facilities and how the future may increasingly be a hybrid of the two

  • Public & private cloud: Exploring the evolving offerings of Africa’s cloud providers, the niches they meet, and benefits of cloud solutions vs physical ‘on premise data centres’ 

  • Green data: Some early data from off-continent suggests that carbon emissions from cloud be cut by up to 80% through cloud storage vs physical data centres. 

The Gigawatt Gap: Creating African data centre ecosystems fit for the 4IR

  • Overview: Reports put Africa’s data centre space requirements at >1000MW. How is the continent funding the hundreds of data centres required for the next decade?

  • Challenges: Electricity infrastructure investment, energy demands, land requirements, and security remain significant hurdles for an expanding data centre market

  • Birds-eye view: South Africa is the continent’s data centre leader - but meeting capacity demands will require a broader view - which countries hold the biggest potential for the future? And how can we boost on-continent, intra-African traffic?

  • Localisation: An important discussion is emerging around keeping data on-continent - reducing latency and retaining the human and capital profits of this booming industry 

Carbon Zero Data - Greener solutions for powering Africa’s data centres

  • Dirty data: Data centres rely on vast amounts of uninterruptible energy, many of Africa’s are still powered by diesel generators - this has to change. Plans must include new, greener facilities as well as migrating existing fossil fuel-powered centres to sustainable energy

  • Affordability: Energy is most often the largest cost for a data centre - and affordability is a critical factor for constructors, investors, and governments. How do the set-up and running costs for African data centres' green energy options compare?

  • New tech: Exploring the innovations driving a revolution in data centre energy, processing & storage - from efficiencies bought by edge & cloud computing to the integration of 5G, AI, intelligent remote monitoring, and liquid cooling and battery evolution

Investment potential of Africa’s data centre and cloud computing industry

  • Status: Exploring the latest data centre investment trends on-continent - who’s spending what, where? And what factors are driving these financing patterns?

  • Incentives: Subsidies and tax breaks for new data centre construction is a key factor for investors - what success have national governments had in creating fertile ecosystems?

  • Skills gap: Availability of the specialist skills required to design, build and maintain high-tech data centres has not kept pace with the accelerating industry