Infrastructure Investor spoke with AIIM Investment Director, Ed Stumpf, in a wide-ranging interview touching on the scale of the digital infrastructure investment opportunity in Africa.
There has been spectacular growth in internet users, and as smart phone penetration increases so will data usage. The accompanying infrastructure to support this growing data demand will also need expansion. However, “From a digital maturity perspective, most parts of the value chain are still at a relatively early stage,” explained Ed.
Investment in fixed broadband connections has enormous scope for growth. In Nigeria for instance, this is placed at a fivefold increase in fibre connections. This is hampered by affordability, whereas mobile data consumption does not face quite the same obstacles, with the cost of the associated technology falling rapidly.
Operational challenges have also somewhat stalled progress, but in line with AIIM’s investment approach, the market is best served by “both the right local partners and a boots-on-the-ground approach.”
Reliable energy supply is also a key consideration to expansion. As such, renewable energy supply and data centres go hand-in-hand, unifying two segments of AIIM’s expertise. This is apparent at the Onix Tier IV data centre in Ghana, which runs on solar power, in which AIIM recently acquired a majority stake.
Ed identified fibre connections as an important area for investment, “The key aim is to explore connectivity to lower income neighbourhoods and then leverage that experience in other markets. To that end, we have identified prospective investments in a number of West and East African countries.”
Ultimately placing the digital infrastructure investment opportunity in the region of $100bn, there is much scope for growth in the sector.
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