Delivering the data revolution
From tech hubs to 5G networks and training programmes to data centres, the infrastructure for Africa’s tech revolution is being built. South Africa’s data-only network Rain wants prime-mover advantage and says that it will launch the continent’s first super-fast commercial 5G telecommunications network in September of this year. The next generation of telecoms tech will play a key role in the internet of things – where home appliances and other devices are hooked up to and can be controlled via the internet – and what is being called the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
South Africa is much further along than its African peers in this domain. Its market is a target for many of the big tech players: Us-based tech giant Microsoft opened data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town in March; China’s Huawei announced plans to build two similar operations in February. Data centres are crucial for data analytics and e-commerce operations, and US e-commerce giant Amazon has plans to open South African ones in 2020.
The continent’s mobile-money hub, Kenya, has plans to improve its tech fundamentals. It signed a new package of Chinese loans in April, and some of the money will go to build a data centre at the long-planned Konza Technology City outside of Nairobi. Huawei is developing that project, as governments like those in the US and UK launch a new tech ‘cold war’, raising alarms about Beijing trying to use its technology to spy.
Data centres are the building blocks of the Fourth Industrial Revolution