Data Centres in Africa: Focus Report

Oxford Business Group, in collaboration with Africa Data Centres Association


ONIX Data Centre (ONIX DC) designs, builds, manages and operates carrier-neutral colocation data centres. The first of the company’s data centres – ONIX Accra 1 – is located in Accra, Ghana, and is the only certified Tier-4 facility in West Africa and complies with hyper-scaler service-level requirements. Onix will establish a pan-African platform to deliver high-speed and secure data centre services. ONIX Accra was acquired by the African Infrastructure Investment Managers in March 2021, and will operate in frontier markets to unlock potential where demand outstrips supply.

ONIX Accra 1 has multiple energy supply systems in place: solar power is used during the day where after the electricity grid is relied upon. In compliance with Tier 4 requirements (99,995% Uptime) back-up generators are on-site in the event of a power outage. As a result, ONIX Accra 1 ensures uptime satisfying Tier 4 requirements enabling cloud computing services to operate without interruption. While power supply has proven to be a challenge for data centres in the region, Ghana’s electrical grid is more reliable than those in neighbouring countries. “Accra is an attractive location for data centres due to political stability and low sovereign risk. There are a number of undersea cable landing stations in Accra ensuring the facility is accessible to organizations worldwide,” Michael Nahon, CEO of ONIX DC, told OBG.


Ed Stumpf, AIIM Investment Director

Africa is witnessing an explosion in data volumes with some of the highest data traffic growth rates in the world.  Data volumes are benefitting from the compounding effects of a growing mobile subscriber base (at rates of around 2x the global average), a rapid rise in smartphone adoption (from just over 50% of subscriptions today to almost three quarters by 2026) and rising content and media demand from African consumers.  These factors are necessitating significant investment and increasing use of infrastructure sharing models for terrestrial fibre, towers and colocation capacity deployment in the region.

Latency and the need for local storage of data are a growing priority evidenced by increased interest from international cloud and content players.  At the same time the potential for local enterprise and financial institution demand should not be overlooked.  COVID has accelerated the number of African organizations looking to migrate to dedicated data centre facilities, but most African markets remain critically undersupplied when current rack capacity is benchmarked against factors such as the number of urban enterprises, the volume of IP traffic and regional economic growth.

AIIM is additionally seeing a positive synergy between digital infrastructure opportunities and a second of our core investment themes – the energy transition.  Power system constraints in the region are declining in importance as falling renewable energy tariffs and distributed energy solutions, such as AIIM’s Starsight Power platform, increasingly enable cost-efficient alternative and redundant power supply to major digital infrastructure assets. 

Read the full report here.