Thought Leadership and Insight from Lassaad Belhiba

Lassaad Belhiba

For this edition of the Datacloud Africa Leadership Summit Interview Series, we spoke to Lassaad BELHIBA, DataXion

Africa is going to an important digital transformation that will affect all activities such as financial, health, energy, government, transport, security..

Many institution are investing in their IT infrastructure to make able their product for new generation (digital generation) such as mobile devices, smart phones.. So digital marketing, e-commerce, smart industry, Internet of things are examples for project that need an important IT infrastructure that should be accessible with very high degree of availability.

To respond to this important need for data and availability, we have to invest in regional data centers in Africa. However, we will meet some challenges to overcome.

1. What are the biggest challenges facing the industry in Africa?

a - Access to local expertise, design, build and operate data centers aligned to standards and best practice, to optimize the cost of CAPEX and OPEX essentially due to the important energy consumption.

b- Improve connectivity infrastructure and develop alternative solutions:
In this case costal region are favorited, because of their easy access to submarine cable landing.

c - Develop new green cooling solution for example photovoltaic and tri-generation.
Climate in Africa causes higher energy consumption in data centers for cooling systems. Also free cooling is not adapted to our climate.

In Tunisia, the state encourage and subsidize investment in green solution. I think all African countries can do the same.
Poulina group (industrial holding) in Tunisia has invested a lot of in photovoltaic and tri-generation.

2. What are the critical steps needed to achieve in the African Data Centre infrastructure development plan?

a - Sociopolitical situation
Political stability and security are very important to encourage the big operator to invest in data centers in Africa.
For example, in Europe Scandinavian countries has attracted the giant data centers (Facebook in Sweden, IBM in Norway etc ...) much more than the neighboring Russia, which presents nevertheless the same climatic characteristics. The difference is on the perception of "risk".
Confidentiality is important for the big internet operators.
It is imperative that the integrity and confidentiality of the data has to be guaranteed by the state where they will be based.

b - Availability of electricity
Improve energy infrastructure to enable the regional data centers to be better served with utility power.

c - Develop green energy

d - Enable the data center to be telco neutral, to give their customers a better connectivity and a multitude of solutions. Avoid that historical operator monopolize the connectivity.

4. What will be the main drivers of data growth in the coming decade?

Internet of things will increase the most need for data in the coming decade
Africa has the youngest generation in the world. All this digital generation will be a big consumer of data via smart devices and Iot.
In addition, Smart cities and smart industry will request an important need for data.

Lassaad BELHIBA will be at Datacloud Africa Leadership Summit 2018 in Marrakech on 28 September. Meet them there