Affordable, reliable, and trusted investments in information and communications technology — or ICT — are a powerful tool for advancing development in emerging markets. Investments in ICT yield many diverse benefits — they can help stimulate job creation, address poverty, reduce inequality, facilitate the delivery of goods and services, and make business more efficient and secure.
Yet many developing countries face a lack of critical ICT infrastructure, which prevents them from achieving full prosperity and stability. The digital divide is especially severe in Africa, which lags behind the rest of the world in the reach and quality of ICT penetration. The continent’s ICT infrastructure deficit — and especially its lack of data centers to house computer facilities, cloud services, and networking equipment — is considered one of the leading impediments for Africa’s development. Although Africa is home to roughly 17 percent of the world’s population, the continent currently accounts for less than one percent of total available global data center capacity, a gap that is estimated to require $4 to $7 billion of investment to close.
Despite this infrastructure gap, the African data center market presents a significant opportunity for growth and innovation. This week, members of a delegation that included DFC’s Regional Managing Director for Africa Vibhuti Jain and Consul General Vincent Spera visited a state-of-the-art data center operated by Africa Data Centres in Johannesburg, South Africa. This data center, one of the data centers rollouts in 10 countries on the continent supported by DFC financing, is bolstering the digital ecosystem in Africa by increasing internet speeds, reducing internet costs, and providing services that are essential for African businesses and consumers to participate in the modern global economy. In addition to its impact on digital communications, DFC’s investment is expected to create over 100 direct formal jobs.
DFC’s support of Africa Data Centres and its efforts to bolster ICT infrastructure across the continent are also helping advance President Biden’s Build Back Better World (B3W) Initiative, which aims to mobilize private sector capital for infrastructure projects in four key areas: climate change mitigation and adaptation, global health, gender equity and equality, and information and communications technology. By promoting values-driven, high-standard, and transparent projects in its portfolio, DFC is helping meet global infrastructure needs in the 21st century and narrow the $40+ trillion infrastructure gap faced by developing countries.
This project to bolster data center capacity in Johannesburg highlights DFC’s efforts to reduce information asymmetries and drive continued growth in Africa’s ICT sector. By expanding access to affordable information and communications technology, DFC is helping bring Africa into the 21st century and foster prosperity across the continent.