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Two major data center construction contracts have been announced in West Africa this week, in Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

Nigerian wholesale operator MainOne said it will launch a US$40m Tier III data center in Q3 this year, in response to rising demand for managed services in Africa.

And in Sierra Leone, telco Airtell ordered a new prefabricated data and telecoms centre from rapid system builder Flexenclosure.

It will be the first large-scale installation of pre-fab data centers on the continent

MainOne’s 600-rack facility will have 3,500 sq m of space, making it the largest purpose- built facility of its kind in West Africa.

The fault-tolerant environment guarantees open access to all major local and global networks available in Nigeria and on-demand collocation facilities, MainOne’s CEO Funke Opeke said.

“Africa is recognized as home to seven of the ten fastest growing economies in the world,” Opeke said.

“The continent has emerged a dynamic business hub. We see increasing demand for data center services with reliable connectivity.”

A lack of IT infrastructure on the continent has held back the developing economies of Africa, he said.

Managed services could galvanize the economy and bring more wealth to the region.

“We believe that with more reliable data centers we can support that growth and cater for the world-class hosting needs of African businesses and service providers in Africa,” Opeke said.

In May, MainOne launched its branch connectivity service for local businesses, which guarantees secure and reliable connections between sites within metro, national and international boundaries.

In Sierra Leone, Flexenclosure will pre-build the 385 sq m eCentre module in its factory in Vara, Sweden and in six months install the completed system for Airtel.

In addition to an IT data center it will include a telecom network switching center, transmission room and staging area.

“This new data center gives us fast expansion as well as activation of both new telecoms and data services,” Airtel’s Sierra Leone MD, Sudipto Chowdhury, said.

He said as well as meeting the demand for managed services, the project will stimulate the economy in other ways.

“It will generate IT and telecom awareness among young local engineers and technicians and long-term employment in monitoring and maintaining the data center,” Chowdhury said.

Airtel International’s group head of real estate and data center facilities Pradeep Vats said he project will transform data center building in Africa.

He said the combination of pre-built data centers and use of local material and labour is the ideal hybrid for Asia and Africa.

“We plan to develop many more in other African countries in the near future,” Vats said.

Terms of the deal were not released, but Flexenclosure described it as a ‘multi million dollar’ project.