Nigeria’s Data Center Industry Taps Latest in Energy-Efficient Technology

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New construction projects of a growing sector are not forced to rely on any existing infrastructure

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According to Paul-François Cattier, founder of the Africa Data Centers Association, a trade organization, energy efficiency is particularly important in African countries such as Nigeria, where access to power systems has historically been limited.

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“There is a lot more interest in sustainability here than you do in Europe because electricity is always an issue,” said Mr. Cattier, former vice president of economic development, Africa and the Middle East for Schneider Electric.

According to Mr Cattier, African data centers have an average power use efficiency of 1.5 PUE. According to data from market and consumer research company Statista, the average global PUE in 2020 was 1.59. The number is based on a survey in which 445 respondents shared the average PUE of their largest data center. This means African data centers are overall 6% more efficient than the global average, despite the increased energy it requires to cool servers, especially in hot climates.

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African data centers tend to be more efficient than data centers elsewhere because they are new, Mr Cattier said.

Lagos, Nigeria, has emerged as a cosmopolitan focal point for Africa’s growing tech scene, fueled by budding startup activity and recent investments by US tech giants in sub-Saharan Africa.

The continent could see 700 new data centers built by 2030, according to a report published by Zalam Analytics, a digital economy market researcher focused on Africa and the Middle East, in partnership with the Africa Data Center Association.

Nonetheless, Nigerian data center operators face challenges. According to Mr. Sharma, frequent power outages require high levels of redundancy in data centers and higher temperatures require more energy to keep servers cool.

In some parts of the country, terrorism, political corruption and piracy create unrest, said Ayotunde Koker, president and CEO of the Africa Data Center Association, although Lagos is a large and stable city and security is usually not an issue. Rack Center Data Center in Nigeria.

As the continent experiences an increase in data center construction, operators say they are able to take advantage of technological advances over the past decade that have increased the energy efficiency of data center infrastructure, including more efficient cooling. system, power distribution system and uninterruptible power. supply system.

“We are more greenfield, so we are able to adopt the latest and most efficient types of technology,” said Funke Opeke, founder and CEO of MenOne, a Nigerian company that runs data centers through its subsidiary MDXi. The term “greenfield” refers to new construction projects that are not forced to rely on any existing infrastructure.

The new data centers are better able to separate hot and cold air, which is the key to more efficient energy use, Mr Cattier said. Data centers built prior to 2010 would have large open rooms where server fans sucked in air to keep them cool, and then hot air came out the other side, resulting in significant mixing between hot and cold air and cooling. efficiency was reduced. process, he said.

Now, those rooms are designed so that cold air can be blown into one aisle and hot air can be blown into another, and each aisle can be enclosed to keep hot and cold air separate, Dr. . Coker said.

According to Mr. Sharma, another advancement involves uninterrupted power supply of the data center, which keeps operations running if there is a problem with the primary power source. In older data centers, the use of backup was an all-or-nothing proposition that tended to waste power. Now, backup power can be drawn in in smaller increments, leading to less energy wasted, he said.

According to Rob Brothers, program vice president of the Datacenter and Support Services program at market researcher International Data Corp., brownfield data centers, or those built with old infrastructure in other parts of the world, can be retrofitted with this new technology. . Data centers typically retrofit every 15 to 20 years, updating some 60% to 75% of their infrastructure, he said.

Nigerian data center operators are working to address other sustainability challenges, such as reducing their reliance on diesel fuel.

Isabelle Bousquette isabelle.[email protected] . Feather

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