Raxio data centre which was slated to launch seven months ago aspires to begin operation in a couple of months doubling its capacity.

The Tire III data centre was initially planned to operate with 1.5MW and 400 racks. However, the Country Manager Bewket Tafere indicated that the demand in the market has prompted them to expand to three megawatts and 800 racks.

It will have two generators each with 30,000ltr fuel holding capacity that can last for 72 hours in case of a large-scale power outage.

According to him, the delay will not have a significant impact on the financial performance, as they have already incurred most of the costs associated with building the data centre.

"We're not rushing," he told Fortune. "We've standards to meet."

The data centre construction began in 2022, after signing a 15.5 million dollar agreement with the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC). It has made a 30 million dollar investment since then and is housed on 10,000sqm of the IT Park.

The architectural work was done by Yema Arthectural Plc. It has a 99.98 accuracy with multiple distribution paths for power, cooling, and connectivity and does not require a total shutdown during maintenance, equipment replacement or emergencies.

Bewket observed the bureaucratic hurdles have made it unappealing to pursue investment while specific items required for the centre were denied approval by officers who were not fully aware of their importance.

The Head of Investment Promotion at the Commission Anbessaw Serbe concurs. He said they are tasked with facilitating tax incentives but certain delays might have been due to the nature of materials which appeared unfamiliar.

"We're adjusting," he said.

Previously supervised by the Industrial Parks Development Corporation (IPDC), the IT Park Corporation is under the Ministry of Innovation & Technology after November 2022.

State Minister Huria Ali stressed the importance of creating job opportunities and foreign currency generation indicating that the Ministry is focused on providing high connectivity and reliable electricity.

"The data centres rely on connectivity," she said.

Headquartered in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Raxio Group was established in 2018 with financing partners Roha Group Inc. which serves as the foundation for Africa’s digital economies and Meridiam which specialises in developing, financing and managing long-term public infrastructure projects. It has a presence in six other African countries and is expected to employ 16 technical personnel and additional administration staff trained from Raxio Uganda.

Corporate companies such as Cooperative Bank of Oromia (Coop) and E-Birrs signed an agreement to use the data centre space.

One of the clients that signed an agreement is Feres, a taxi-hailing service that entered the market in 2019. The Chief Operations Officer Abebe Mulu disclosed that it would be a great enhancement to their workflow.

"We're eager to work with them," he said.

Using Addis Abeba's ideal temperature which averages between 15-20 degrees as a backdrop, over 14 companies have acquired investment licenses to engage in data centre and cloud services since 2018.

There are more than five companies building data centres in the IT Park on the premises of Qilinto, the eastern part of Addis Abeba. RedFox and Wingu Africa International have started operations while Raxio, ScutiX, and Safaricom are under construction.

Experts agree on the cruciality of data centre investment as data is considered an asset. Million Kibret, manager at BDO Investment Consultancy, believes safe storage spaces are mandatory even at an individual level let alone corporate companies with large information transactions.

According to Million, a huge chunk of foreign currency put into facilities abroad could be saved with such types of investments. However, he fears that the necessary attention might not be underway.

"Its importance may be overlooked for lack of awareness," he told Fortune.

PUBLISHED ON Sep 10,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1219]

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