Intelligent CIO Africa Issue 67 - Page 46

FEATURE : DATA CENTRES

Taking data centres from power hungry to energy efficient

With the African data centre market expected to top US $ 3 billion by 2025 and considering the mounting pressure to reduce carbon emissions around the world , Craig Blankers , Regional Director , WSP in Africa , addresses whether it ’ s possible to build net zero data centres across the continent .

The acceleration of technologies including cloud , Internet of Things ( IoT ) and Artificial Intelligence ( AI ) are increasing the demand for data centres as part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution . Africa alone needs 1000 MW and 700 facilities to meet growing demand , according to the Africa Data Centres Association . Despite recent investments in data centre infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa , much of the continent ’ s capacity remains in South Africa where local providers brought more than 50 MW of dedicated data centre IT load capacity online between 2017 and 2019 .

Adding further complexity is the unavoidable fact that data centres remain power hungry . According to Gartner , approximately 10 % of data centre operating expenditure is consumed by power costs . In Africa , unstable power supplies that are still heavily fossil fuel dependent and increasingly expensive are certainly posing a significant challenge for the data centre industry to contend with . Over-and-above the critical importance of a stable power supply , responsible corporate citizenship and meeting environmental , social and governance ( ESG ) practices combine to put significant pressure on data centre owners to service the continent and ensure that Africa can keep pace with the rest of the world .
Clearly , increased capacity must be designed and built with stable power supply and net zero targets in mind . Managing energy efficiency is core to achieving this . Since you cannot manage that which you do not
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