The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a subsidiary of the World Bank, yesterday, announced a partnership with Liquid Intelligent Technologies, to expand its data centre capacity and facilitate the rollout of fibre optic cable across the continent. The IFC through this partnership will be investing $250m into Liquid to support its data centre expansions in Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya and South Africa.

The lack of infrastructure coupled with an increasing demand for quality services especially in key sectors in emerging markets is making an investment case for the IFC. The World Bank-backed corporation is rapidly taking a position in emerging real estate sub-sectors across the continent including healthcare, student housing and cloud storage infrastructure. In April this year, the IFC published a report on the Student housing landscape in South Africa and invested $10m in the South African student housing market through a partnership with Eris in May. So far, IFC has a portfolio of over $2bn in healthcare across the world’s emerging markets. 

The growing adoption of technology by businesses across industries coupled with governments investing to connect their people to the internet, is driving up demand for cloud services across the world. So far, Africa’s investment in Data Centres pales in comparison to other regions across the globe. According to the broadband commission on sustainable development, sub-Saharan Africa needs around $100 billion in investment to achieve universal, affordable and high-quality broadband access by 2030. So far, the only notable investments in West Africa are; the MDX-I 100 rack facility that started construction in Ghana around May 2020, the African Data Centre by GREA, and the Actis/Consonance Partners-backed $100m Rack centre expansion in Lagos.

So far, IFC’s digital strategy in Africa is aimed at enabling far-reaching, reliable, and affordable connectivity. According to the Managing Director at IFC, Makhtar Diop, IFC’s investment in Liquid will help expand access to infrastructure and digital services that power Africa’s digital economy. Speaking about the partnership, Strive Masiyiwa also noted that the investment will support their growth plans over the coming years by encouraging the adoption of new services such as Cloud and other digital services, which are critical in driving sustainable development across Africa.

What are your thoughts on how data centres will perform over the next few years?

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