New African data centres open up possibilities for video solutions

Technology & Convergence

Balancing Act’s new report Data Centres in Africa reveals that the continent now has 108 shared commercial data centre in various locations. The report indicates that the facilities are already running or set to open for business in the next few months.

Local telecoms service providers, content aggregators and media owners will soon be able to start offering new video solutions: VOD, IPTV, webTV, video e-commerce portals, and video sharing and uploading - where telecoms networks allow it.

Local hosting solutions that data centres enable also introduce the concept of better film preservation to private and public institutions such as African TV stations that have large collections of current affairs videos and motion picture films but lack information about how to take care of them. Films preserved are digitized and can then be re-used in education, or sold to be inserted in new film production. Old films can then be seen widely through screenings, exhibits, DVDs, televisions broadcasts, and the Internet. Governments, public or private TV stations and national history foundations should be the primary clients for those audiovisual archiving services.

This comes at the time when the need to keep filmed reports archived for future generations becomes urgent. In several African countries, national TV stations often can’t provide their archives because these were either destroyed or damaged.

If these video solutions take place across the continent, the outcome will be a much greater strain on local data centre servers, thus creating demand for added space. It should also translate into more clients and revenues for media companies to support their business cases.

But data centres can also enable several other applications in most sectors such as IT hosting, agriculture, health, entertainment and game, social networking and more…

The arrival of several international cables on both sides of the continent was what set the stage for growth in Africa's data centre market. Several new undersea cables will land at points along the continent in the next few years, in addition to current cables Seacom and the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System. These include the West Africa Cable System, Main One and the Africa Coast to Europe cable.

Balancing-Act says data centres are a key ingredient of the nascent telecoms, IT and media infrastructure in Africa. “In 2011, the outlook for the growing data centre market in Africa is very promising” wrote Pablo Diantina, data centre expert and co-author of the report.

According to the research, some parts of Africa, such as SA, are seeing a “booming” data centre market in anticipation of cables that will land shortly. However, says Balancing-Act, several regions on the continent are still untapped, despite growth in demand for data centre services. Balancing Act says Africa can benefit from a growing demand, as Internet traffic from Africa grows due to lower connectivity costs, thanks to the new cables.

More Internet traffic will drive Internet companies to localise some of their operations in Africa instead of using facilities in Europe or in North America. Balancing-Act says a move to cloud computing and the need to trim costs through outsourcing will also drive demand for data centres. Regulatory changes that will require data to be stored in-country are another growth driver, the report cites.

Researchers spent seven months closing the report because it was really hard to identify where these data centres were. It took three researchers going through Balancing Act’s network and engaging on social networks such as LinkedIn to identify the shared facilities. Only a few data centres – especially in South Africa and in Egypt – are visible on the net.

More information on the report's content are available on the following link

To purchase the report online click here