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Rack Centre MD explains why datacentres are strategic infrastructures for Nigeria, Africa



Datacentre as a facility consisting of one or more than one structure, used primarily for the storage, management and dissemination of data, and the provision of associated electricity connections infrastructure, must be regarded as strategic infrastructure for growth of Nigeria and indeed, Africa’s economy.

The Managing Director of Rack Centre, Dr. Ayotunde Coker, made the assertion when speaking to ICT Editors at Rack Centre location in Oregun, Lagos-Nigeria.

According to Dr. Coker, datacentres are very strategic core-infrastructures for the economy.


“The world is now a data economy and we live in a global ecosystem. However, if there is lack of quality infrastructure to provide the hosting of data, it underpins everything that is done. So, if that infrastructure is available locally, sovereign data requirement can be met at the right quality. For us to do what we do, we have to make sure we match the quality provided abroad. In fact, we exceed most of the qualities obtained outside the country and our achievements last year, both as a company and individuals, attest to that.

“Secondly, the datacentre is a hosting environment that supports the whole range of networks. We know broadband penetration is key for economic development, but if there is no reliable datacentre, locally, where will the broadband be hosted? Again, if there is no interconnectivity, there will be no internet access, which will have negative impact on the economy. Of course, internet access has positive impact on the economy.

“Therefore, you start to get IT services at the endpoint of use, which drives growth in the economy. That is the rationale I used to say having very credible datacentre infrastructure in the country in the right levels of quality is very strategic indeed.

The Managing Director of Rack Centre, Dr Ayotunde Coker, in Lagos, receiving the Best Infrastructure award on behalf of Rack Centre at the 2018 Africa Fintech Summit where Coker also delivered the keynote address presented by the CEO, Dedalus Global, an Investment Consultancy firm, Leland Rice.

“That brings us to the question around certifications. If we agree a datacentre is a critical, underpinning infrastructure for our data enabled economy, then, it is absolutely right that we have the highest quality. And a good sign of the quality is that the certified design is built.

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“Then, surely, we are interested in getting Nigeria noticed in the global comity of datacentre facilities. Although, we have Nigerian sovereign data rules, which by any global standard, is in Nigeria’s prerogative to have, however, there is still the need to maintain the global standards which enables us to co-exist and connect to that global ecosystem”.

When asked about the constant buzz around local content (local data hosting) and whether the country has the capacity to meet up with demands, the Rack Centre boss, said that as a globally recognised Company in the datacentre sector, Nigerian businesses need not worry about latency or downtime hence Rack Centre has maintained 100% uptime since launch about five years ago.

He also said that they are ready to double their capacity this year even as power generation by Rack Centre increases.

In his words, “If you look at when we started; five and half years now – October 2013, we have been operating 100% uptime. We have also embarked on that journey to educate businesses executives that they not need to build a datacentre but to outsource their data centre requirements instead. Why? It takes time to build that trust- Rack Centre had maintained a 100% uptime, is highly secured, well respected have sterling track records with its customers.

“Our customer ratings are consistently high- we are passionate about them and try everything to make sure they are satisfied. We never compromise customers satisfaction. It has been tough but rewarding journey to change the mind-set about trusting locally built infrastructure of this kind. We are proud of the profile we have created for Nigeria in the global datacentre space.

Rack Centre won Global Carrier Award 2018 as Best Data Centre Innovation, among other global and national accolades.

“We still have some work to do- reason being that a lot of our customers collocate with us and they say, “ah, Mr. Coker when are you guys going to build another location,” I replied, “we are working that so we can even bring more footprints closer to you”.

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Cisco Visual Networking Index indicates some interesting trends going into 2021 and why Datacentres are now key economic drivers:

  • Annual global IP traffic will reach 3.3 zettabytes by 2021.In 2016, global IP traffic was 1.2 ZB per year or 96 exabytes (one billion gigabytes) per month.

  • Global IP traffic will increase nearly threefold over the next five years, and will have increased 127-fold from 2005 to 2021.

Dr. Coker, argued that it does not make economic sense for companies to continue building private datacentres.

“Also, it takes a very brave Chief Technical Officer, CTO, or Chief Information Officer, CIO to walk up to the Board with the preposition of spending millions of Dollars on a datacentre. The Board would say, “have you been to Rack Centre” if the CIO or CTO said, “well, I didn’t consider Rack Centre before making the proposal” the Board would say, “please, go consider Rack Centre”.

“Four years ago, we would be trying to convince customers to come try our facilities. Today that has changed. We now receive referrals who are interested in colocation. Others who decided to build have sunk millions of dollars, capital that they could have used to improve on their business on the front-end.

“On quality, how many of those have you seen as properly certified? They have to sleep, wake up at night; think about 24-hours power supply, how to purchase diesel. They have to be worried about the quality of the facility for it to stay up. Speak to any of our customers, they sleep well at night.

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“Also, with Rack Centre, we deliver a fantastic ecosystem. Overtime, we have noticed that the customers that host with us tend to be very advanced and successful. Perhaps, there is something in the DNA that assisted them to come and host with us.

“The profile of customers we have here attests to it. Even those that are not successful yet are on the road to becoming successful businesses. So, they see the value in quality service we offer as against issues around cost or “I have to go build by own datacentre”.

“Still on capacity, data is exploding and there are two sides to it: One, you can go host your data abroad; however, latency is now a problem. If you look at the connectivity – we have globally respected infrastructure here. It means you don’t need to go abroad to host your data and suffer the latency impact”.

…watch out for more on the interview.

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