Vantage Data Centers is expanding into Africa, and has begun construction on a $1 billion data center campus in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The announcement comes just weeks after Vantage announced its entry into the Asia-Pacific market with the $1.5 billion acquisition of Agile Data Centers and a portfolio of facilities from PCCW. In 2020, Vantage launched a $2 billion expansion into Europe.

Vantage launched with a single campus in Santa Clara, but has undergone explosive growth since its acquisition by Digital Bridge in 2017, and now has data centers across five continents.

“With our global expansion over the last two and half years, we have become one of the fastest growing hyperscale data center providers in the world,” said Sureel Choksi, president and CEO, Vantage Data Centers. “Vantage has seen strong demand from our customers for high quality, hyperscale data center facilities across the globe, and we are excited to meet this demand by expanding to Africa’s largest market.”

The project is notable because it is first direct expansion into Africa by a major U.S. data center developer, and reflects growing interest from cloud platforms. It reflects confidence in the future growth of the South Africa market by investors like Digital Bridge, the parent company of Vantage and a major player in channeling investor funds into digital infrastructure.

Cloud Platforms Extend to Africa

This week Oracle announced plans to deploy a new cloud region in Johannesburg, where Microsoft has operated a cloud region since 2019. Meanwhile, Google is building laying the groundwork for future data center campuses in Africa by building the Equiano subsea cable, which will originate in Portugal and run along the West Coast of Africa to South Africa. Facebook is a partner in another subsea cable project that will bring capacity to Africa.

Digital infrastructure in Africa has trailed the growth in other continents, with data center development by local operators like Teraco Data Environments in South Africa and MainOne in Nigeria. Digital Realty operates facilities in Nairobi and Mombasa that it acquired through its purchase of Interxion.

The African Data Centre Association says that about 30 Tier III data centers have come online on the continent since 2016, and estimates that Africa will needs 1,000 MW of capacity and 700 data center facilities to meet growing demand and bring the rest of the continent onto level terms with the capacity and density seen in South Africa. A key factor will be the development of energy infrastructure to support these facilities.

Delivery Expected in Mid-2022

The 80-megawatt Vantage campus will be in Johannesburg’s Waterfall City, and will consist of three facilities across 30 acres (12 hectares) with 650,000 square feet (60,000 square meters) of data center space once fully developed. The first phase of the campus, slated for completion in the summer of 2022, will include a 16MW building.

“Johannesburg is the data center hub for sub-Saharan Africa due to its strategic location, IT ecosystem, fiber connectivity to the rest of Africa and the availability of renewable energy,” said Antoine Boniface, president, Vantage EMEA. “We look forward to not only opening the doors of our first African facility to our customers, but also to becoming part of the local community. Our first campus has a planned investment of more than US$ 1 billion, and it will create hundreds of jobs to positively impact the local economy.”

The campus will have a dedicated on-site, high-voltage substation from utility ESKOM, and be cooled using a closed-loop chilled water system generated through air-cooled chillers. An integrated economizer capability will allow Vantage manage compressor energy based on outside ambient temperature.

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