Equinix Extends Carrier-Neutral Digital Infrastructure to Africa – Interconnections



MainOne has built an impressive platform for its customers, including:

  • More than 64,000 gross square feet (5,945 square meters) of space across four operational data centers.
  • More than 570,000 square feet (52,954 square meters) of land for future expansions.
  • The MainOne subsea cable network, stretching 7,000 km between Nigeria and Portugal.
  • 1,200 km of terrestrial metro-fiber networks across Nigeria.

MainOne Data Center in Lagos

West Africa is making great strides in digital transformation, but there is still more to be done

West Africa, and Nigeria in particular, is emerging on the world stage as an innovative, dynamic region in the global digital economy. Nigeria has both the largest population and the largest economy of any country in Africa. With approximately 142 million active internet subscribers[1], representing over 23% of all internet users across the continent, it also has nearly limitless opportunity for expansion of digital services. However, one hurdle the country must overcome in order to achieve full digital transformation is to grow its investments in digital infrastructure.

In “Moving Toward an Interconnected Africa: the 80/20 initiative,”[2] the Internet Society (ISOC) ranks the digital maturity of different African countries based on what percentage of internet traffic is exchanged locally. By this measure, Nigeria has emerged as one of Africa’s digital success stories. Between 2012 and 2020, the country went from about 30% localized traffic to about 70% localized traffic. Over that same period, the number of internet users and total volume of internet traffic also increased dramatically.

Despite the steps Nigeria has made toward digital maturity, there remains room for improvement because Nigeria did not achieve the “80/20” goal set by ISOC: 80% of traffic exchanged locally and only 20% internationally. The country exchanges about 1.7 Tbps of internet traffic internationally, with about three-quarters of that amount exchanged in Europe. This inevitably leads to high latency. This latency could prevent Nigerian businesses from applying the latest digital technologies—such as 5G and artificial intelligence—in their products and services. For this reason, further investment in local digital infrastructure is a key enabler for digital acceleration in Nigeria.

Source: TeleGeography[3]

By supporting the growth and maturity of digital infrastructure in Nigeria, we believe the Equinix acquisition of MainOne could be transformational across several different sectors of the Nigerian economy, including financial services and content and digital media.

Nigerian fintechs step in to fill the banking gap

The financial sector is one of the areas being rapidly transformed with efforts to expand financial inclusion. Of the adult population in Nigeria, only 45% have an account with a traditional bank, 20% access financial services through more informal methods, while the remainder are completely unbanked.

In recent years, Nigerian fintechs have received the most foreign direct investment outside the Oil and Gas sector.  These nimble, digital-first companies aim to fill the gaps in the traditional banking system, often by providing services that mix traditional Nigerian practices with the latest digital technologies. For instance, PiggyVest was founded on the idea of digitizing the “kolo,” a wooden box often kept in Nigerian homes to promote regular saving. The company gives customers a more convenient, automated approach to kolo savings, directly from their smartphones.[4]


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