Analysing Africa's Cloud & Data Centre Ecosystem



2020 was a year of big changes for Africa’s cloud ecosystem. There has been major investment into carrier-neutral data centres across the region. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has sped up cloud adoption. Many businesses have turned to cloud services to help them operate in these difficult times.

Console Connect wanted to get a deeper insight into these trends. So, we asked consultancy firm Balancing Act to gather market research on the region’s data centre and cloud ecosystem.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s Data Centre and Cloud Landscape

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Before we explore the results of this research, first we must put it in context. Four trends have affected the data centre and cloud sector at a global and local level:


The impact of the COVID-19 crisis has been huge. And it’s reinforced why flexible working capabilities are so vital. In national lockdowns, businesses have had to provide secure, hassle-free tools to access work and collaborate from home.

Hybrid implementation

Some enterprises are taking a more cautious approach to the cloud. With bandwidth and security concerns, they are migrating parts of their service before making everything fully cloud-based.

Digital disruption

There’s a growing level of digital disruption, both globally and in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2019, $679 million was invested in African start-ups in the Fintech sector.

Data regulations

16 African countries had passed data protection legislation in 2019, with a further eight due to do so. These legislations will lead to growth in local data centre and cloud activity.

What’s Driving the Development of Cloud and Data Ecosystems in Africa?

Economy and population size

The more people in a country as its economy grows, the greater the level of economic activity. There are 15 African countries with large enough economies and populations for potential cloud and data centre development.

Number of operators

Having more operators in a country increases the need for interconnection via an IXP or a data centre, or both. South Africa most vividly illustrates this – it has four mobile operators, 11 MVNOs, over 160 ISPs. So, there are two IXPs and an exchange point that has 430 peering partners.

Regulatory climate

To develop a data centre and cloud services ecosystem, you need an open market attitude to regulation. On this basis, Ethiopia is entering new territory. It’s both liberalising its market and privatising its incumbent, Ethio telecom.

Mapping Sub-Saharan Africa’s Data Centres

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There are 10 Sub-Saharan African countries with carrier-neutral data centres (Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia) and 6 more are coming on stream shortly (DRC, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Senegal, Uganda and Zimbabwe).


South Africa represents 89% of the total capacity in five key countries:

About a quarter of African countries have an existing or planned carrier-neutral data centre.


Across Sub-Saharan Africa, there are 20 carrier-neutral data centres and 15 planned new facilities. Some are in countries that already have a carrier-neutral data centre.


The quality and expertise of carrier-neutral data centres in Africa has greatly improved in the last five years. The first wave has now been operating successfully for nearly a decade. Many of the planned next-generation data centres are being built to Level IV standard. Several carriers – mainly mobile operators – have invested heavily in data centres. These include data centres of some scale in:

  • Cameroon
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa

An Overview of Cloud Services

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Five major hyperscalers have taken an active interest in Africa:

Hyperscaler and local presence by country:



Who is Using Carrier-Neutral Data Centre and Cloud Services?

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Businesses across Africa are adopting data centres and cloud services at different speeds.


Banks were among the first wave of carrier-neutral data centre users

They’re under a growing legal obligation to have their disaster recovery outside their premises.

The second wave of users were multinational companies

These include everything from retailers and FMCGs to betting and insurance companies. They moved to the cloud for cost and operational efficiencies.

There is a significant overlap between data centre and cloud service users

African companies that use carrier-neutral data centres are looking to adopt more cloud services.


Companies in South Africa mainly use cloud services for:



A Growing Need for Interconnection

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Digital transformation is accelerating. And as more data centres and cloud service providers arrive in Africa, the need for local interconnection will increase.

Businesses across the region will grow more independent on a much larger pool of cloud, SaaS, and other services. They’ll require quick, instant access to data centres. And they’ll want their SaaS, cloud, and other critical services to interconnect seamlessly.

Get More Insights Into Africa’s Cloud and Data Centre Ecosystem

These are just some of the top-level findings from the research. Take a deep dive into our full report to learn more about:

  • Global and local trends driving growth in data centres and cloud services in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The region’s main data centre hubs.
  • How hyper-scale cloud providers will impact local businesses and infrastructure.
  • Likely growth sectors for cloud and data centre services.
  • How interconnection and network automation can improve access to clouds and data centres in the region.

Download your free copy of the Africa Interconnection Report today.

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