In this interview Gbenga Adegbiji, the Chief Operating Officer, MDXi spoke candidly about his company’s vast impact on Digital Infrastructure in West Africa, the nagging challenges and Lekki II Data Centre due for launch in 2022 among sundry issues.
After the launch of Appolonia Data Centre in Accra in June this year, MDXi has announced its Lekki II Data Centre for launch in Q1 2022. What exactly is driving MainOne's investment in Digital Infrastructure?
Digital transformation and the growth of the Digital economy is changing the world in many ways and will continue to transform the way we live and do business. There is still a huge digital infrastructure gap in many countries of Africa and MainOne's vision is to bridge that gap through our investments across the West African region. Our Data Centre subsidiary, MDXi is expanding its footprint across the region as seen with the Appolonia Data Centre in Ghana and now Lekki Data Centre II. These investments will power the explosive growth in data consumption and digital services in the region. We want to ensure that enterprises have access to affordable Data Centre and Interconnection services at global standards to deliver services to end users across West Africa.
We know Lekki Data Centre 1 is a 600 racks facility; how big is Lekki Data Centre II going to be?
The Lekki II Data Centre is the new mega structure currently being developed within the campus of Lekki Data Centre I. The Lekki II DC is a 4MW infrastructure with a total of 572 rack spaces and will enjoy the same seamless connection to the national grid with guaranteed availability in excess of 94%, making both facilities the most environmental-friendly Data Centre Campus in Nigeria. The new facility will also be certified to the relevant global Data Centre and security standards.
Interconnection is very critical to Data Centre services; what is the position of MDXi in the Nigerian data traffic ecosystem?
MDXi is the hub for digital content, Cloud platforms and network ecosystem in West Africa. With our rich interconnection environment made up of global content players, network providers, cloud providers, and local operators, MDXi connects the region to the rest of the world. Our Data Centre hosts global players, over-the-top (OTT) media services, major financial institutions, and with traffic exchange in the Internet Exchange of Nigeria (IXPN) and the West Africa Internet Exchange (WAF-IX), MDXi represents the largest, openaccess data exchange in the region. In Nigeria, we enable access to over 40 network providers, connecting these providers to enterprises and enabling the local delivery of internet traffic to major content accessed by users at reduced latency. Beyond Nigeria, we also offer reach to 10 countries in West Africa through MainOne's network.
Within a few years of operation, MDXi has become the go-to destination for content seeking a home close to West African consumers and for local companies who have digitalized their operations and seeking to enable their customers do business online.
Being such a critical player in the West African Digital Ecosystem, what is MDXi doing to make traffic exchange more seamless and affordable in the region?
We have built a rich interconnection ecosystem made up of telecom providers (both local and global), Internet Service Providers, cloud, payment and content providers, exchanging traffic amongst themselves to result in significant reduction in cost and latency. We have also extended access for networks to access global content providers locally through the West Africa Internet exchange (WAF-IX) hosted in Nigeria with extensions in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. This saves networks a significant amount as against the cost of transport where content is accessed from offshore locations while improving the speed of access for users on the networks connected. In addition to WAF-IX, MDXi hosts the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) and enables access to other global content via direct links to other exchanges such as DE-CIX, GIX, AMSIX and LINX.
A recent report argues that the utilisation from 11 data centres in Nigeria is just about 30%. What are the indices to show that "localised" Data Centre patronage will double in the nearest future?
The demand for digital services in our region continues to rise exponentially with growth driven by uptake of cloud and colocation services by large enterprises, Fintech and global players. This rise is leading to the generation of large amounts of data that must be processed, managed and stored. There is also regulation: globally, local data domiciliation or data residency regulation is being adopted and enforced by Nation States to protect National security. What this means is that data content generated in a particular country must be stored within the shores of that country. These demand drivers coupled with the massive youth population of Nigeria and the uptake in digital adoption, mobile technology and Fintech, indicates that the opportunities to grow remain vast especially since Africa currently contributes only 1% of the global Data Centre capacity. Having said that, having the right interconnection ecosystem, a good understanding of the operating environment and investment in world class infrastructure and standards make a big difference in trying to capture the growth opportunity, but our market is yet to consume data centre services in line with demand seen in advanced economies.
Your facility is touted as the most environmental-friendly Data Centre in Nigeria today. How are you able to do this?
Data Centres generally consume a lot of power due to the volume of energy required to power and remove heat generated by IT infrastructure. This power must also be available on a 24hrs, 7-days basis no matter what. To achieve high availability of power in our environment, most data centres rely on diesel-fuelled generators to power operations which is not environmental-friendly because of carbon emissions and noise pollution. The MDXi Lekki campus is strategically located close a sub-station on the national grid and the company invested in building a direct and dedicated 33KV line to connect the grid. This initiative cut our carbon emissions by 95%, which is why the facility is attractive to organisations looking to reduce carbon footprint and embrace a more environmentally friendly infrastructure space.
Gbenga Adegbiji is the Chief Operating Officer of MDXi, a subsidiary of MainOne and the premier Tier 111 Data Centres provider catering to the colocation and interconnect needs of enterprises, Internet Service Providers and regional operators across Nigeria, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire.