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Google Cloud pledges $1 billion African expansion as continent's DC footprint grows

Google Cloud has pledged to build a cloud region in South Africa – joining AWS, Azure and Oracle on the continent for the first time – and pledged to deliver dedicated cloud interconnect sites in Nigeria and Kenya.

The South African plans alone – which will see Google Cloud add regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg – will create 40,000 jobs by 2030, according to research for the company by AlphaBeta Economics.

(The company did not immedialy respond to a request for the primary research by The Stack.)

“We are building full scale Cloud capability for Africa” said Nitin Gajria, Managing Director, Google Africa, today.

Connectivity while be underpinned by Google’s private subsea cable, Equiano, which has already made landings in Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Togo. (Equiano has a design capacity of 144Tbit/s, making it the highest-capacity internet cable landed on the African continent and will start in Portugal.)

Google has also added voice typing support for nine more African languages (isiNdebele, isiXhosa, Kinyarwanda, Northern Sotho, Swati, Sesotho, Tswana, Tshivenda and Xitsonga) in Gboard, its virtual keyboard.

Google’s Gajria said: “We’re partnering with African organisations, businesses and entrepreneurs.

Highlighting other investments on the Continent he added: “ It’s the talent and drive of the individuals in the countries, communities and businesses of Africa that will power Africa’s economic growth.

africa data centers google cloud region
Image shows the Raxio team breaking ground on a new data centre in Mozambique in September 2022.

From DCs to interconnects African data center investment is ramping up notably.

Azure launched cloud regions in South Africa in 2019 and AWS in 2020. Oracle followed this year.

Co-location providers are busy building out data centre infrastructure for partners across the continent meanwhile. Just weeks ago carrier neutral, Tier III data centre operator Raxio Group broke ground on its Raxio MZ1 data centre Mozambique, which will be the country’s first privately owned data centre.

Following the launch of its first facility in Uganda in 2021, Raxio has now also established has a presence in Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, and as of September 2022, the Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter DC is set to be commissioned at the end of 2023, with a modest 1.5MW of IT capacity and space for 400 racks.

Earlier this year meanwhile, data center heavyweight Digital Realty agreed to acquire a majority stake in Teraco, Africa's leading carrier-neutral colocation provider, from a consortium of investors, including Berkshire Partners and Permira, as well as Medallion Data Centres in Nigeria. Last month, meanwhile, the London Internet Exchange (LINX) announced a strategic collaboration with African Internet Exchange Point, NAPAfrica. Networks currently connected and peering at NAPAfrica or LINX can now access either of the exchanges via trusted and mutually available carriers.

See also: Is Nigeria an overlooked IT outsourcing gold mine?