Old Mutual Bets on African Data Center Growth With Ghana Deal

Old Mutual Ltd.’s private equity unit acquired a stake in a second data center in sub-Saharan Africa as it expands to take advantage of a shortfall in cloud storage capacity on the continent.

The investment, through its African Infrastructure Investment Managers fund, in conjunction with Onix Data Centres Ltd.’s management team, will ramp up the size of the Ghanaian facility into the largest in the West African country. It will be renamed Onix Accra 1, with connectivity provided by Vodafone Group Ltd., Comsys Holdings Corp and CSquared Innovations Inc, the company said in a statement.

Africa accounts for just 1% of global data center capacity even though the size has doubled in the past three years, according to Xalam Analytics. Demand for data storage capacity is expected to grow three times faster than supply as more Africans acquire smartphones and the impact of the coronavirus lockdowns boosts demand for data storage, according to the research.

The evolution of electronic storage spaces in many markets outside of South Africa remains inadequate to meet rising data demand, Ed Stumpf, AIIM’s investment director, said by email. “Data centers underpin and enable the digital economy and present strong growth prospects for long-term investors such as AIIM.”

This is the fund’s second investment in digital infrastructure in the past four months, after MetroFiber Networx in South Africa. Amazon.com Inc., and Microsoft Corp. have been investing in data center capacity mainly in South Africa, while Liquid Telecomunications Holdings Ltd. and Actis Asset Management SA have raised a combined $550 million for sector on the continent.

AIIM currently has $2 billion in assets on the continent in telecommunications, energy and transport. The Old Mutual unit raised $320 million for deals in 2019, and has raised $2.3 billion in total.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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