Digital Realty forms JV for PlatformDIGITAL expansion in Africa

26 October 2021 | Melanie Mingas

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Digital Realty has entered into two new partnerships with Pembani Remgro Infrastructure Fund that will see it take PlatformDIGITAL to new African markets.

Pembani Remgro is a South African private equity (PE) investment firm, investing in infrastructure across Africa. Its fund is focused on late-stage greenfield and brownfield infrastructure for food and agriculture, business services, financial services, infrastructure, communications and IT services, as well as manufacturing.

Digital Realty has now formed a JV with Pembani Remgro to acquire Nigerian colo and interconnection provider Medallion Data Centres, and to enter Mozambique through an earlier partnership with iColo.

Digital Realty CEO A. William Stein (pictured) said the developments reinforce the firm's earlier $500 million commitment to the continent.

"There is a huge opportunity to both meet growing customer demand for connectivity in Africa and improve the internet infrastructure that serves over one billion people who don't yet have proper access to the benefits of internet.

He continued: "The expansion of our platform announced today is a leap forward but it's just the start of our $500 million commitment to investment in the continent over the next decade.  We see a huge opportunity to underpin Africa's expanding internet economy and play a central role in its growth."

In Nigeria, Medallion operates two data centres; one in the capital, Abuja, and another in Lagos. The Lagos facility counts more than 70 carriers and ISPs, more than 80% of the public peering traffic on the Nigerian Internet Exchange, and a peering point for all subsea cables currently operating in Nigeria. There are further plans for it to serve as a peering point for the nine new subsea cables scheduled to be in operation in Lagos by 2023.

Both will now be owned by the Digital Realty and Pembani Remgro Infrastructure Fund JV, which has also purchased a parcel of land close to the Lagos facility in preparation for future expansion. Medallion's management team, led by CEO and co-founder Ike Nnamani, will continue to lead the business.

In Kenya, iColo – which has collaborated with Digital Realty and Pembani Remgro Infrastructure Fund since 2019 – has confirmed it is develop its first data centre in Mozambique. Details on this facility are light, however it will be located in the capital, Maputo.

The iColo campus in Mombasa was recently expanded to deliver an additional 1.6MW of power and 12,900 square feet of capacity for new and existing customers, along with the new subsea cable landing equipment.  In addition, iColo has expanded its Nairobi campus with the acquisition of an additional 215,000 square feet of land that will support 14MW of future capacity.

Explaining the wider connectivity benefits of the new facilities, Rakesh Kukreja, MD at iSAT Africa said: "We need to make internet access affordable, reliable and power efficient for people in rural areas of Africa where low potential revenue and difficulty reaching customers have previously made it impossible.  Digital Realty and Pembani Remgro Infrastructure Fund's expansion across Africa will bring IP aggregation points closer to much of Africa's underserved population, and alongside innovations like LTE and optimised satellite for 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi networks, are now helping tackle this challenge.

"iSAT Africa's focused aim is to bring these technologies together towards bridging the digital gap in rural and ultra-rural African communities, in addition to bringing the benefits of good connectivity to people and businesses everywhere."