ICT Expert advocates for more data centres in Africa

Didier Nkurikiyimfura speaks during a past event. Courtesy.

There is a need to increase capacity for Africa to be able to have more data centres and host more of its data, Didier Nkurikiyimfura, an expert in ICT has said.

Nkurikiyimfura is the Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Smart Africa Secretariat, an alliance which aims at leading Africa into a knowledge economy through Information and Communications Technologies (ICT).

Today, only one percent of data centres are in Africa, while 99 percent of them are hosted outside the continent, he revealed, pointing out that most of the continent’s data is stored abroad.

A data center is a repository consisting of a large group of networked computer servers and other facilities including routers, network switches and firewalls, and it is used for the remote storage, processing, or distribution of large amounts of data.

He was speaking during a “Cloud and Security Summit” which concluded in Kigali on Friday, and serves as a platform where IT leaders from both supply and demand side can meet and interact in order to take measures and provide response to cyber security threats.

The two-day regional conference is organised by the Ministry of ICT and Innovation (MINICT) through Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA).

He said that Africa needs to build its data capacity to catch up with other continents in the world.

Sometimes, he said, because the foreign companies keeping data for African government and private sector are subject to their own laws and regulations, it might result in improper access to data, which might intrude on privacy.

“So, that is why we would like to advocate to have competing capacity in Africa,” he said.

Power, internet [connectivity] buildings, as well as regulation, are some of the infrastructures that are needed to operate data centres.

As of now, he said, it is difficult for the continent to develop its data storage capacity as it does not have enough infrastructure in place.

“So, it’s a movement in both sides. One way we need to work and make sure that we have more and more physical infrastructures in place, but on the other side we need to put in place regulation to ensure that we protect data that are hosted, and once that data protected, our consumers are protected,” he observed.

Meanwhile, it emerged from the conference that hosting data in some parts of Africa is expensive as one pays like five to six times of what they should pay to host it in foreign data centres such as Microsoft.

On the high cost of data hosting in Africa, Nkurikiyimfura said, “the fundamental problem here is that we don’t have economies of scale the cost advantage experienced when the amount of produced goods or services increases.”

In countries like the US where there are large data centres managed is because they have been able to host data for billions of people in the world, he indicated.

“We need to get a mechanism to make it (data hosting) more affordable,” he said.



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