The South African government is suggesting data center operators should reduce their reliance on the grid and start “self-provisioning” energy.

First reported by MyBroadband, South Africa’s Department of Communications & Digital Technologies recently published the National Data and Cloud Policy, a framework aimed at efficiently managing and utilizing data through cloud computing technologies.

Vantage Johannesburg South Africa JNB11.jpg
A Vantage data center in South Africa – Vantage Data Centers

“Currently, South Africa faces electricity supply challenges,” the report stated. “Given that data centers operate 24 hours a day and consume vast amounts of electricity, reliance solely on the national grid may be insufficient. Therefore, it is crucial for data center owners and operators to implement additional alternative energy resources to prevent operational disruptions.”

In the listed “policy interventions,” the report said: “Priority should be given to the self-provision of electricity and water for the operations of data centers to ensure continuous operation and reduce dependency on the national grids.”

The report also notes the South African government should adopt a ‘cloud-first’ approach to data, and the State Information Technology Agency shall be the responsible authority for sourcing data infrastructure and cloud services from industry providers for the government.

South Africa’s grid is notoriously unreliable. Load shedding – where parts of the country are taken off of the grid for a period of time – are a regular occurrence.

Despite the major grid capacity issues in South Africa, PPA-type agreements for renewable power remain rare.

Digital Realty-owned Teraco is developing its own solar farm in the country, while Vodacom has signed an energy deal with local energy firm Eskom. Africa Data Centres is developing a solar farm in Bloemfontein with Distributed Power Africa.

Telecom operators such as MTN have invested significantly in batteries and generators to keep their base stations online during prolonged outages.