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Zimbabwean billionaire announces $500m data centre expansion across Africa

Cash injection comes as several markets have been the beneficiaries of new data centre investments this year as the industry takes off in Africa.

By João Marques Lima

Co-founder and Editor, The Tech Capital

4 Mins

October 01, 2021 | 4:00 AM BST

Zimbabwean billionaire announces $500m data centre expansion across Africa

Liqui Telecom’s founder and billionaire Dr Strive Masiyiwa

Liquid Telecom’s founder and billionaire Dr Strive Masiyiwa has announced the company has secured US$500 million in equity and loans to build several data centres across the African continent.

In total, the London-based tech entrepreneur is planning ten hyperscale facilities across Africa’s largest cities through the telco’s data centre business arm Africa Data Centres which already operates facilities in three countries.

Masiyiwa said in a Facebook post: “We have secured over $500 million in equity and loans to build what we call ‘Project Decima’; the largest data centre campuses in 10 African countries, each representing an investment of $50 million.”

He added that the facilities will be built to accommodate the needs of “large global tech companies that support cloud-based services”.

Liquid Telecom was not immediate to comment on the news and on which potential international cloud players the data centres might be targeted at.

Potential investors in the half-billion Dollar sum include the UK government’s CDC, the World Bank’s private sector investor IFC, as well as the US government’s Development Finance Corporation.

Masiyiwa continued: “We offer our customers unique and unequaled innovation; each of these facilities is interconnected with our 100,000 km fibre network, that spans the entire continent.”

Africa Data Centres recently 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.

Below is Masiyiwa’s full message:

Covid can delay but it cannot deny!

The last time I was in South Africa was February 2020. Among the things I did was to visit the construction site of the largest building we have ever constructed; 20MW Data Center in Johannesburg. It would be our fifth such facility in the country.

It consumes more power than many major cities on the continent. Each facility is designed to use renewable energy provided by DPA, our power division.

By the time I visited, work had already started and I looked forward to returning in a year’s time to Commission it. Then Covid hit, and we had to stop construction several times due to lockdowns. We finally finished last week and our first customers began to put in their computers.

During the same time we began a project of a similar size in Lagos, Nigeria. We have now secured over $500m in equity and loans to build what we call ‘Project Decima’; the largest Data Center campuses in 10 African countries, each representing an investment of $50m. We call such large data center facilities ‘Hyper Scale’, because they are designed to accommodate the needs of large global tech companies that support cloud based services.

We offer our customers unique and unequalled innovation; each of these facilities is interconnected with our 100,000 km fibre network, that spans the entire continent.

This is your takeaway: “Covid can delay but it cannot deny.”.

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João Marques Lima

Co-founder and Editor, The Tech Capital

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