Covid-19 | Mar 29,2020
The expansion of digital technologies, fintech and payment platforms has intensified as the demand for data centres is growing fast.
The trend has prompted companies such as Wingu.Africa, an international data centre developer, to speed up the construction of a second-phase project. According to Reena Pandya, marketing manager at Wingu.Africa, the recent takeoff of Safaricom Ethiopia Plc and growing demand from domestic banks and local companies led to the second phase project.
After its first phase was completed, Wingu.Africa signed lease agreements with five companies six months ago, including Goh Betoch Bank and the Bank of Abyssinia. The second phase is double in size, comprising over 200 server racks, with a single rack capable of hosting over 100 servers.
Launched four months ago, the second phase is scheduled to go live in the coming January. The developer has completed two of the four phases it planned to build on a 15,000sqm plot of land. Wingu.Africa began the first phase two years ago in the Ethio ICT Park on the northeast outskirts of Addis Abeba.
The federal government has released its transformation strategy to digitise the economy by 2025.
Over 30 companies visited and showed interest in Wingu's expanding markets in the hospitality and telecommunications sectors. However, the executives declined to disclose the identities of the companies signed up, citing confidentiality clauses.
However, the Bank of Abyssinia (BoA) planned to use the data centre provided by Wingu.Africa for colocation, a method of using data centres provided by vendors, deploying servers or equipment.
Daniel Hailu, Abyssinia's chief information officer, believes outsourcing data centres is preferable for the size that can be used based on the consumers' base. He has also attributed its convenience to data management.
The bank is importing three servers with hosting capacities of up to 30 terabytes.
“We're preparing to start deployment right after the servers have arrived,” Daniel told Fortune.
Although the bank has a data centre inside its headquarters on Churchill Avenue and a disaster recovery centre near Bole Medhanealem, its outsourcing choice follows industry practice. It is customary for banks to outsource their data centre needs to remote workers instead of housing them in their facilities.
"It's typical for companies to partner with data centre providers," said Daniel.
Safaricom Ethiopia Plc is another customer, keeping network equipment at the Wingu.Africa’s facility.
WebSprix, incorporated in 2011 with a registered capital of 1.5 million Br, is one of the companies working with Wingu.Africa.
It provides services ranging from broadband and cloud to streaming and internet services for financial institutions and media companies. Waiting for the arrival of 10 servers, it is looking to build a cloud service through colocation on the data centre rented from Wingu. Africa.
“We facilitate for our customers; we don't compete with them,” said Nicholas Lodge, chief strategy officer for Wingu.Africa.
Websprix also installed servers on Ethio telecom’s data centre.
“We needed more data centres and disaster recovery sites,” said Dawit Abraham, general manager.
Experts see companies using colocation methods, realising building a data centre is expensive.
“Banks may afford to build their own,” said Solomon Mohammed, an IT infrastructure expert. “Many don’t want data to be placed out of their compound.”
CashGo, a locally developed digital crowdfunding and remittance platform, stores its data with overseas companies, mainly in the US, for a monthly fee of 2,000 dollars. The application has been integrated with Visa and Mastercard to allow travellers to transfer funds directly to accounts with Abyssinia, deposited in Birr.
Its General Manager, Tewodros Shiferaw, sees the network's fluctuation, data insecurity and unreliable power as significant challenges to losing confidence in using local providers.
“We're left with no other options," Tewodros told Fortune. "We'll consider using local facilities when we're confident about the security issue. We're planning on building a data centre, too.”
Wingu.Africa has an expansion project planned in Bahir Dar, Amhara Regional State.
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