De­liv­er­ing the data revo­lu­tion

The Africa Report - - QUARTER -

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

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