Djibouti Data Centre (DDC) is planning a major expansion, both of its core facility in Djibouti, raising its number of connections to international fibre-optic cable routes, and into East Africa, with immediate plans for satellite hubs in Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Somalia.
DDC was set up 20 months ago in a joint venture between Djibouti Telecom and a group of local and international investors, and is the first data centre and internet exchange in East Africa to connect to eight fibre-optic cables running from Europe to Asia.
“Africa has historically been challenged by high Internet costs,” Anthony Voscarides, DDC’s Australian CEO, told Reuters. “The Djibouti market itself may be small, but DDC serves as a gateway hub to the many millions of customers in the neighbouring East African countries.”
Djibouti is strategically located on the Internet route that passes under the Mediterranean, through Red Sea and into the Indian Ocean. African Internet users, however, have typically enjoyed little connectivity to and therefore benefit from these cables passing along its coast.
DDC aims to correct this bandwidth injustice by, in addition to connecting three more cables on the Europe-Asia route next year, building secondary centres in Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Somalia – all of which are at varying stages of Internet development.
Kenya is the largest market in the region, with an Internet penetration of 39%, the fourth-highest in Africa, but according to the Internet Society the country is ranked 105th globally for download speed and Kenyans spend 15.7% of GDP per capita on broadband access.
This compares with a low of 6.1% in South Africa or 2% in most of Europe, a moderate 7.4% in Sudan, an unreasonable 31% in Uganda and a fantastical high of 60.4% in Ethiopia.