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Africa’s internet economy to reach $180 billion by 2025, Ghana to gain as data center hub


Thelma Efua Quaye, Director of Digital Infrastructure, Skills & Empowerment, SMART AFRICA

The Director of Digital Infrastructure, Skills and Empowerment at Smart Africa, Thelma Efua Quaye says it is estimated that Africa’s internet economy will reach $180 billion by 2025 and Ghana stands a chance to gain a significant chunk of that as the country works on positioning itself as the main data centre hub on the continent.

She was speaking to journalists at the opening of a two-day workshop to discuss the regulatory framework for Data Centers and Cloud Service, the first of its kind being developed for the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) to regulate that aspect of the ICT industry in Ghana.

Smart Africa is collaborating with NITA to develop the regulations, and the workshop brings together industry stakeholders to ensure that the final regulatory document is dynamic and promotes best practices in the industry.

Indeed, Ghana already have several public and private sector data centers, and is about to host the biggest data center on the continent, with some US funding. The country is also host to several submarine cables and has relatively better connectivity on the continent.

All of these position Ghana as the destination of choice for the data center hub and indeed a digital hub for the continent. Ghana is also the host of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, a vehicle designed to boost intra-Africa trade via digitalization.

Thelma Quaye believes that the timing for the Data Center and Cloud Services regulation is Ghana is apt, because it promises to further position the country as a regional data center hub with the proper regulations to give investors the confidence to come to Ghana.

According to her, currently businesses in Africa are at a disadvantage in terms of cost of accessing data and the quality of data, because most of the data centres and cloud services on which data from Africa are stored, are located outside of the continent.

Building data centres in Africa, she said, would not only help cut down cost and boost Africa’s internet economy by attracting businesses to and creating jobs on the continent, but also help to “secure our sovereignty because it makes us confident that no one is spying on us. It will also make a significant contribution to good governance.”

Thelma Quaye also said Smart Africa has observed that, beyond specific national regulations, several investors are also looking for harmonized regional regulations that gives them access to all 1.3 billion market size in Africa at a go, instead of just the smaller populations of individual African countries.

She therefore noted that regulations and harmonized regulations, particularly in the area of access to data has a great potential to attract much higher foreign direct investment into Africa.

In terms of interoperability, she said Smart Africa, in collaboration with member states, has established the Smart Africa Trust Alliance to ensure that the various data centres across the continent are interoperable to the extent that countries with the same ideology on cybersecurity and data protection will be able to share data.

She added that plans are also afoot to build the Africa Data Highway, which members states will be expected to leverage to transfer data in a safe and secure manner.


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