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We need more data centers

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All the talk about the 4th Industrial Revolution, Africa's digital economy, startups and innovation,
 
August 28 · Issue #60 · View online
iAfrikan Daily Brief
All the talk about the 4th Industrial Revolution, Africa’s digital economy, startups and innovation, will remain just talk. Unless, the building blocks of terrestrial fiber and data centers on the continent are in place to ensure they all are sustainable. - Tefo Mohapi

There is no denying that over the past decade, and even since the year 2000, Africa in general has progressed as far as digital technology is concerned. No more is the continent merely a consumer of technology but it has increasingly produced its own technology solutions and in some cases become the trend setter.
Having said that, in my humble opinion, there is still quite a bit that needs to be done. Especially in the areas of Internet connectivity and more importantly, in-country data center infrastructure.
Amazon announced in 2018 that it will open data centres in Cape Town, South Africa to “enable customers to run workloads in South Africa and serve end-users across the African continent with even lower latency”.
The need for Africa-based data centers becomes even more pronounced when you factor how African governments have lately been waxing lyrical about the digital economy being key to economic development and in other cases about how emerging technologies as presented by the 4th Industrial Revolution are key to the continent’s future.
However, you could ask, why don’t we just continue using data centers (or “the cloud”) that are located in North America, Asia and Europe?
Global Cloud Data Center and On-Ramp Locations, 2018. Source: TeleGeography
There are several reasons why local data centers are important. I will touch briefly on the main ones.
Where data centers are located is important, as is the case for terrestrial fiber networks, for the efficiency of how data moves across networks on continent. Secondly, given all these emerging technology solutions that require instantaneous response and transmission, local data centers will significantly improve the speed at which such solutions can be accessed, reducing latency.
There has been progress made on this front especially over the past 10 years but we definitely could do with more data centers across Africa (not just South Africa).
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