The Federal Government must resolve the power infrastructure shortcomings in the country and formulate good broadband policies to attract N3tn investment in data centre deployment, analysts have said.
Data centres are critical to the provision of faster and cheaper Internet connectivity and President Muhammadu Buhari as well as the Ministry of Communications have said approximately 300 of such centres are required to support affordable Internet services and software applications in the country.
The President and the ministry believe the development of data centres will also help to stop data hosting overseas, which aids capital flight.
Foreign Information Technology companies such as Google Incorporated, Microsoft Corporation and Oracle, at various fora, have said they will be willing to invest in this area.
The companies, however, expressed concern that five years after the landing of fibre optic submarine cables on Nigeria’s shores, the country had been unable to speed up the pace of wholesale fibre access due to the absence of a broadband policy that would promote infrastructure sharing and competition.
“Technology firms, such as Google, are interested in investing hugely in data centres if Nigeria can address the power challenge and speedily tackle the issue of last mile connectivity and distribution capacity, so as to spread available bandwidth capacity across the entire country,” says the Communications Manager, Anglophone West Africa, Google, Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade.
The Director, Business and Strategy, Kits Technologies, a data centre infrastructure provider, Taofeek Okoya, says stable power supply is critical.
He explains, “Yes, broadband infrastructure is important, but power is even more critical. Today, Nigeria is still struggling with unstable power supply. Importantly, data centres consume a lot of electricity.
“Nigeria is, indeed, a huge market and the potential here is enormous for local and foreign IT companies. As I speak, there are lots of data centre initiatives ongoing in the country. A lot of banks and government agencies are building data centres.”
Okoya adds that it is important for data centre owners to build competent human capacity to manage their high cost infrastructure.
Data centre deployment, according to analysts and market watchers, is big business, capable of creating wealth and job opportunities.
A large data centre may have from 100 to as many as 300 onsite employees, and give impetus to Nigeria’s online business community to provide innovative services cost-effectively.
A senior executive at Microsoft West Africa says massive investments will be ploughed into data centre deployment over the next few years if the government plays its expected role.