2018 will be a defining year for the data centre operators in Nigeria. First, the Federal Government’s moves to bring back home all data hosted abroad will boost the operators’ confidence and help them recoup investments.
Another interesting angle to it is the report that Over-the-Top (OTT) brands and other global technology giants are making plans to localise data traffic generated from Nigeria.
Speaking at the recent one-day NerdsUnite2018, Microsoft’s representative disclosed they are thinking towards hosting Azure Stark in Nigeria before the end of 2018.
Already, YouTube Nigeria is hosted in-country; Facebook has signed partnership with one of the data centres too to host in Nigeria.
Nevertheless, TechEconomy.ng approached the Founder/CEO of MainOne, Funke Opeke, to ascertain the readiness of the data centres, infrastructure wise, to receive these investors and deliver value, among other industry issues she discussed. Excerpt.
Why the choice of topic for NerdUnite2018: Radical Digital Transformation?
Looking at what has been going on with our economy recently and in line with African Innovation we believe the country needs digital disruption and innovation to transform the economy from low growth we are experiencing the recent years to more creative ideas to boost the economy. We don’t think that low growth will get us to where we need to be. Across the world there is surge in the growth of platforms and values are been created. A lot of that is driven by digital technology. So, we believe it is time we get busy.
Who should drive this?
I think we have a collective responsibility. Tech is all about skills and innovations. It’s not any kind of top-down. It is a challenge to all tech community that we are able to innovate and collaborate to transform our industries and society on how we derive values.
What is the Role of the Government?
Government is an enabler, especially by creating ‘easy of doing business’. I think that in other advanced countries and what they have done with technology, government has not done it for them. The citizens are innovative to drive values.
If you look at global tech companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook or Google, they are born out of innovation. Government needs to create an enabling environment, but the people need to use their ability to innovate to meet the needs of our people and drive our economic value.
How is Mainone supporting the startup ecosystem?
MainOne is supporting the startups; one, by providing infrastructure. The infrastructure we invest in enables businesses to transact online. We are bringing a lot of technology closer to the startup community in Nigeria where they are able to access.
First, infrastructure is expensive. And you have to consider the buying power of the people. So, you have to find smart and shared ways of deploying infrastructure, leapfrog in terms of technology. We have some of our partners here today talk about cloud solutions.
So everyone is not buying the servers, acquiring the power systems to support it, installing software systems before they can even deploy one application. By using a share platform, for example, in a data centre, you don’t have to pay for all the services yourself. You just have to pay for the piece of it you are using. So, these are the kind of things we are doing to make infrastructure more affordable and available across our society.
What are the challenges?
Capital is a real issue. The adoption in terms of sourcing; we are not even creating the technology here. So, when you consider the dollar requirement vs the ability to pay, it becomes a little difficult. Building more infrastructure across more jurisdictions in Nigeria has also been a challenge because of the issues around right of way (RoW) and other factors.
Has MainOne’s upgraded her Submarine cable?
The submarine cable is there and will continue to add more capacity to it. We have extended the cable to Cameroun. We are currently building out to Ivory Coast and Senegal. So, we build each of the cable system across West Africa.
OTTs Intend Hosting in Nigeria, Are Data Centres Prepared?
Absolutely! It is about time the OTTs host their data in Nigeria because as our keynote speaker, Nnami Oranye said, Nigeria is one of the top five consumers of internet contents- in terms of number of eyeballs on the internet, globally. I am sure more than five countries have these high scale data centres. So, if Nigeria indeed is among the top five, why are Nigerians going elsewhere to provide their data. Nigeria has lot of contents- Nollywood, personal data.
So, we certainly constitute a large base to have that data hosted in the country. We have world class data centres, submarine cables, fibre networks are been laid in cities, therefore, it is long overdue to have the OTTs host their locally generated (Nigeria) contents hosted in-country.
Do you allude to the saying: Nigerians are slow to adopt new technologies?
Yes, we are slow relative to some parts of the world in the adoption of technology. If you compare the technological advancement in Nigeria to South Africa, South Korea or Malaysia or even Brazil, the gap in terms of GDP per capita is no where near where we are today.
One of the fundamental reasons for that is, if you look at those societies, the adoption of technology to transform everything they do – production, healthcare, education, etc., has been so much faster.
South Korea is number one network ready economy in the world. So, I think clearly adoption has been slow then in South Africa and Kenya in the African Continent. Therefore, we have a lot of work in our hands for us to embrace technology fully and understand the opportunities that technology brings to us to drive our economy; not just in the technology businesses, but other sectors, our daily living and business. We can be agents to promote technology adoption in the country.