Raxio has launched its first East African data centre in Uganda in Namave Industrial and Business Park where the key Metropolitan Fibre cables pass.
The Certified Tier III Data Centre in has taken nearly three years of construction having been delayed by the Covid 19.
The $15m-data centre was constructed by Roko Construction Limited since early 2019 and was designed by Future-tech, a UK-based specialized data center design company and Symbion Consulting Group.
“We decided to build a data center in Uganda because there’s a great mix of the trends that are propelling data center growth around the world, giving us a customer base (Uganda) that really needs the service that we provide,” said Brooks Washington, the Raxio Group Director, during the launch on May 25.
Raxio’s Chief Executive Officer, Robert Mullins, said 70% occupancy has been taken up and they plan to build a second facility in Entebbe.
Raxio Uganda Data Centre is going to enable business continuity due to their carrier-neutral data center and certified Tier III standards, offering a service uptime of 99.99% uptime. Customers will benefit from affordable, secure colocation spaces and hosting environments of up to 400 racks to hold all mission-critical IT infrastructure in a 24/7 redundant environment.
“This is a world-class facility that is going to support several industries in Uganda and we are delighted at the Ministry because what Raxio has done fits quite well with the country’s digital transformation program,” the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of ICT and National Guidance, Vincent Waiswa Bagiire said before launching the data center.
Bagiire said the country’s ICT industry is the fastest-growing sector largely driven by the telecommunication sub-sector —growing at 20% per annum. He said the sector is employing more than 1.3 million people and with the introduction of services Raxio is going to offer, the number will increase greatly.
As a carrier-neutral data centre, Raxio Uganda offers a wide variety of seamless data connectivity options due to a variety of local and international fibre carriers currently connected at the data centre. These include Africell-Uganda Limited, Airtel Uganda, Bandwidth and Cloud Services Group (BCS Group), Csquared, Liquid Telecom, MTN, Uganda, National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U), Roke Telkom, SEACOM and Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL).
Raxio hosts also an instance of the Uganda Internet exchange Point which allows networks to directly interconnect and freely exchange data traffic at a common point in-country, making the internet cheaper, faster, and more reliable.
Mr. James Byaruhanga, the General Manager of Raxio Data Centre said: “Construction of our flagship facility has been a long but rewarding journey to this point that we are launching operations. Raxio Data Centre is a dream come true, with our Tier III certification from the Uptime Institute we believe that this facility will be a bedrock for increased economic development in Uganda as it will attract several opportunities for colocation not only regionally but also internationally. We look forward to the positive impact of our facility across the enterprise and SME markets, and on key industries such as financial services, content and media”.
The vibrant and fast growing media industry is also likely to tap into Raxio’s services.
“Every month we produce 5-6 terabytes of content…we keep the raw footage & edited videos. You can estimate how much data we would accumulate in a year,” said Kin Karisa, the CEO, Next Media Services that operates NBS television.
Raxio Group is also currently building two Tier III data centres in DRC and Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, Raxio expects construction to be complete by the end of 2021 at the ICT Park in Addis Ababa.
Raxio Kinshasa with 400 racks and a power of 1.5 MW with the possibility of expanding to 3MW as demand grows, will be the very first “agnostic” data centre, also referred to as a neutral-carrier, located in the DRC. It is estimated to cost $18m.
Scheduled to open in June 2022, it will be a Tier III facility, which means that it will have an availability rate of 99.982% and experience an average of only 1.6 hours of downtime per year.
Established in 2018, Raxio Group is part of the US-based Roha Group investment firm. The company plans to have 10-12 data centers on the continent by 2023.
The company plans to double its facilities in Ethiopia and Uganda, and even triple them in the DRC. Raxio will start by building a data centre in Lubumbashi because the capital of Haut-Katanga is “well placed in terms of connectivity”, due to its proximity to Zambia, Tanzania and Angola.
According to the Raxio CEO, a second centre will then be opened in Kinshasa, “to absorb the greater demands that we see coming in the future from a few large potential customers and to support one of the current trends, in which operators who have their own proprietary data centres outsource some of the resources they need to us.”
Raxio had planned to venture into Rwanda and Tanzania after Uganda and Ethiopia but opted to rush to DRC due to the “enormous market” it represents and its government’s desire to increase its very inadequate internet infrastructure. In fact, DRC’s President Félix Tshisekedi launched the “National Digital Plan – Horizon 2025” at the end of 2019.
However, Raxio still has plans for the two East African countries. “In Tanzania, we still have regulatory issues that must be resolved before we can launch,” says Mullins.
The US company Raxio Group with competitors in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria has decided to set up shop in “secondary African markets”
There is no doubt that this offshoot of the Roha Group – a US fund that has three other African companies in its portfolio (Juniper Glass Industries in Ethiopia, African Asset Finance Companies (AAFC) and its Ethiopian subsidiary Ethio Lease as well as the pan-African company Roha Health) – intends to make its mark on the African continent.
Raxio, which received $50m from Roha in 2019, is expected to benefit from an even greater investment in the near future.
Though data centers in the continent have doubled since 2016, resources are tightly concentrated in South Africa, which has some two-thirds of capacity.
A recent report from The African Data Centres Association (ADCA) and Xalam Analytics claimed Africa needs 1,000MW and 700 facilities to meet growing demand and bring the rest of the continent onto level terms with the capacity and density of South Africa.
Africa’s broadband user base is set to double over the next decade, and more than 30 Tier III and above multi-tenant facilities have come online across the continent since 2016 to accommodate growth, essentially doubling the region’s hosting capacity.
Yet capacity is uneven; only a third of Africa’s 80-plus cities with a population of more than one million have at least one data center facility at Tier III standard.
More than two-thirds of the continent’s capacity sitting within South Africa. Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, and Morocco also have larger concentrations of facilities compared to most of the countries on the continent.
To achieve a data center landscape comparable to current the current capacity and density of India, Africa will need to add an aggregate capacity of at least 120MW of multi-tenant data center capacity over the next decade totaling 1.4 million sq m (15.1 million sq ft) and ~80 facilities (assuming an average of 3MW per facility). For the whole continent to be on par with South Africa, the rest of the continent would need 1GW, equating to 3.5 million sq m (36.7 million sq ft) across ~700 facilities.