Because Africa is a continent and not a country - you cannot standardise how data centres are built in this region, says Standard Bank's Gerhard Nel.

Because Africa is a continent and not a country - you cannot standardise how data centres are built in this region, says Standard Bank's Gerhard Nel.

African countries are making an effort in building up their data centre infrastructure, but are challenged by skills and resources.

This is according to Gerhard Nel, global technology operations at Standard Bank, speaking at the ITWeb Data Centre Summit 2016 yesterday.

Africa is the fastest-growing region for mobile technologies and data centres play a big role in that demand, he added.

For many of the countries on the continent the infrastructure can't yet cope with the rapidly growing interest and investment in technology, said Nel.

However, so many of the countries are desperately trying to develop new infrastructure to cater for the massive data growth brought by the high mobile penetration, he added.

They are trying to develop their countries into first world countries, but they do not always have access to the resources they need to do this, said Nel.

This presents immense opportunities for investors, he noted.

But, infrastructure service providers need to understand the environment and the problems the countries in this region face in operating and maintaining data centres, added Nel.

"Because Africa is a continent and not a country – you cannot standardise how data centres are operated in this region – different markets have different levels of maturity. "Every country is unique, with different culture, requirements and expectations."

Nel pointed out one of the biggest challenges for data centres in Africa is the power grid.

Rapid growth of IT demand in Africa has created a massive demand for power, he said – adding data centres are running out of space and power.

Nel believes Africa still lags behind other regions of the world with regard to electricity consumption and generation.

Moreover, electric power in many African countries is still inaccessible, unaffordable, and highly unreliable, he added.

About 90% of the rural population in Africa has no access to electricity, with Ethiopia and Kenya among the most severely under-powered, explained Nel.

Also, trained staff in data centre operations is still a scarcity, he said.

What is not often recognised is that most data centres in Africa are managed by IT staff who are not adequately trained in data centre operations, let alone optimisation and virtualisation strategies and optimal cooling techniques, said Nel.

Embracing changing requirements and always re-evaluating business priorities are critical to data centre success in Africa, he added.