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Equinix to invest separate $390 million in Africa play

The money plans for investment includes the construction of data centers at its current operations, but excludes plans for additional markets

Equinix to invest separate $390 million in Africa play
Despite accounting for 17% of global population, Africa houses less than 1% of the world's data center capacity

United States-based Equinix, the world's largest digital infrastructure firm, is upping its ante in Africa.

The Nasdaq-listed data operator has revealed it will spend $390 million expanding its operations in the continent, a plan that would see the company build out data centers in the Sub-Saharan region.

This comes a little less than 2 years after it spent $320 million acquiring MainOne, a leading West African data center, and connectivity solutions providing venture with a presence in Nigeria, Ghana, and Ivory Coast, to make inroads to the continent at large.

Having established footprints from Nigeria, which makes up much of the most established data center hub in Africa, Equinix is now looking to double down on its presence in West Africa and expand its existing operations in South Africa while eyeing avenues to make entry east of the continent.

Its managing director for South Africa, Sandile Dube, says the company, which is "undergoing several studies to ascertain these opportunities" will put money into where it makes business sense.

"We're going to need key hubs on the continent as we have in Europe, which is why we have started with Lagos, Johannesburg, and, in time, we would like to add Nairobi," Dube noted.

Equinix typically buys top-tier digital infrastructure solutions providers to enter new markets; since its inception, it has made 17 acquisitions worth more than $10.5 billion. But in some cases, it starts with building international business exchange (IBX) data centers.

In December 2022, it announced plans to construct in Johannesburg, South Africa, a $160 million facility with 4 megawatts of IT capacity. They began setting up the data center in early 2023, and expect to launch later this year. After phase one, it had quintupled the amplitude to 20 megawatts and reached a collocation space of over 100,000 sq ft.

Despite accounting for 17% of global population, Africa houses less than 1% of the planet's data center capacity. On the bright side, industry analysts say the IT load of the continent will reach 1,226.8 megawatts by 2029 on the back of an expected 600 million mobile connections.

Due to the rise in online shopping, digital payments, and smartphone gaming, the total raised floor area covered by data centers is expected to increase to 5.2 million sq. ft by the same time.

Not just Equinix but also Amazon and Microsoft are tapping into the growth opportunity by building data centers, particularly from South Africa, the country with the continent's largest collocation space.

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