Elevating Nigeria’s data hosting capabilities

Apr 14, 2016, 2:53 PM EDT
Data center. (Source: Sam Greenhalgh/flickr)
Data center. (Source: Sam Greenhalgh/flickr)

One sign of technological advancement is data hosting ability, meaning having the infrastructural capability, human resources, and budget to maintain data center operations. Nigeria is approaching this point, with local data hosting slowly building out. Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, emphasized the importance of the country’s local data hosting abilities this week as he visited Rack Centre in Lagos. 

Local reports say that Shittu spoke of a future in which Nigerian companies do not have to send data abroad, and where Nigerian websites will all be able to be locally hosted. Rack Centre is one of Nigeria’s most robust data centers, with the capacity to set the stage for more local hosting and bringing hosting back into the country from abroad. He encouraged the government and general users to support organizations like Rack Centre so that its data center capacity can compete with foreign companies. Rack Centre recently expanded its capacity from 119 racks to 255 racks, according to Biztech Africa.

Indeed, hosting Nigeria’s healthily growing internet economy within its borders would open up huge economic opportunity — jobs, digital education, and a new generation of tech workers. And not all foreign interest has to be negative in this regard. 

Google announced on Tuesday that it is pledging to train 1 million young people in Africa in digital skills over the next year as part of the company’s effort to elevate Africa’s digital economy. Various programs target educating students in data-based specialties and especially encouraging them to explore tech sector jobs.

But in order for students to get jobs in tech, there need to be jobs in tech. That’s where building local data hosting and colocation facilities comes into play.

One of the reasons why it’s easier for African countries (and countries around the world who are slower to adopt modern technologies for various reasons) to not host data within their borders is because foreign companies (ahem, Amazon) have made it quite easy to send data abroad. Shittu’s words this week underscore what needs to be a broader effort on the part of countries to develop hosting capacity, and public support for the private sector in order to establish local hosting economies.