New digital infra entity Cassava Technologies launches with $200m Kenyan investment

Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa is to serve as executive chairman of the group backed by “significant investment and collaborations from some of the world’s largest technology businesses and institutional investors”.

By João Marques Lima

Founder and Editor, The Tech Capital

6 Mins

November 15, 2021 | 4:03 AM GMT

New digital infra entity Cassava Technologies launches with $200m Kenyan investment

Telecoms and tech entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Cassava Technologies, with President Barack Obama at the White House Summit on Global Development in July 2016. Source: Masiyiwa's Office

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Privately held African telecommunications group Econet has launched Cassava Technologies, a digital infrastructure brand designed to hold the group’s assets under one operational arm.

This includes digital services and digital infrastructure product segments, encompassing fibre broadband networks, data centres, and renewable energy, as well as cloud and cybersecurity, fintech, and digital platforms from technology brands, including Liquid Intelligent Technologies, Africa Data Centres, Liquid Cloud, Sasai Fintech, Vaya Technologies, and Distributed Power Technologies.

Headquartered in London, Cassava Technologies services over 1 million enterprises and enable access to the internet for over 500 million people across Africa.

The group said in a press statement that Cassava Technologies is backed by “significant investment” and extensive collaboration with “some of the world’s largest technology businesses and institutional investors” interested in Africa’s nascent but rapidly growing digital economy.

Telecoms and tech entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Cassava Technologies, said: “Technology creates pathways to democratize access to opportunity. Only through accelerating digital innovation in Africa will we empower individuals, families, businesses, and economies to reach their full potential.

“As Africa’s economy transitions to digital, there is a tremendous opportunity for increased connectivity to usher in a new wave of digital tools and solutions that will improve the lives of millions of Africans. This is why we have created Cassava Technologies, to make technology as accessible as cassava “fufu” in Africa.”

Cassava Technologies operates the largest independent pan-African terrestrial fibre broadband network, which spans more than 62,000 miles, covering more than 300 towns and cities across Africa from Cape Town to Cairo.

It also operates Africa’s largest footprint of interconnected carrier-neutral data centres and the Sasai Super App supporting payments and remittances across the continent.

Econet Group’s mobile telecoms businesses which include Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, Econet LEO (Burundi), Econet Telecom Lesotho, Econet’s investment in Mascom Wireless Botswana, and Econet’s mobile money business, EcoCash Holdings Zimbabwe are unaffected and will continue to operate under the Econet Wireless brand.

Hardy Pemhiwa, CEO of Cassava Technologies, said: “We are delighted to announce the launch of Cassava Technologies. Our unmatched fibre broadband, data centres and renewable energy infrastructure, paired with fintech, cloud, cybersecurity, and on-demand digital platforms, will accelerate Africa’s digital transformation.

“As Cassava Technologies, with a footprint covering more than 15 countries, we are well-positioned to meet the growing needs of businesses operating in Africa and expand access to fintech and other digital services to enterprises, small and medium-size businesses, and consumers across Africa.”

Kenya’s $200m data centre investment

Cassava’s first expansion announcement following its launch came from its pan-continental operator Africa Data Centres which is expanding its presence in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi with US$200 million in capital expenditure.

The cash will be used to build a second facility which will add 20MW of capacity as well as securing land for a third facility in the city.

The investment will double the country’s data centre capacity and serve the development of Kenya as a key digital hub, allowing Kenyan data to stay in Kenya.

Stephane Duproz, CEO of Africa Data Centres, said: “Africa Data Centres currently has the leading carrier-neutral data centre in Nairobi and East Africa as a whole.

“We have the most dynamic ecosystem, in terms the largest number of connectivity providers on-site in the region, as well as the strongest leadership in the enterprise sector and financial services in particular.

“Kenya is one of the top data centre markets in Africa and is widely viewed as the gateway to the East African region. There has been a dramatic increase in the adoption of digital services, and the move from on-premises to colocation and managed facilities will be at the vanguard of data centre development in the years to come.”

In September, Africa Data Centres announced that it plans to build a total of ten interconnected, cloud- and carrier-neutral data centres across the length and breadth of Africa in a $500 million investment in the continent’s digital transformation.

“The expansion will more than double our already significant footprint on the continent,” Duproz said.

The company’s last topping up event took place in September, when it completed its Johannesburg data centre, based in its Midrand Campus, one of the largest in Africa.

The facility has been designed to target technology companies and enterprises in and out of South Africa and comprises eight data halls with 97,000 sq ft of white space and 14.5MW of IT load.


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João Marques Lima

Founder and Editor, The Tech Capital

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