Turkcell has opened a 12,000 sq m (130,000 sq ft) data center in Turkey's capital, Ankara.

The latest facility is a part of a series of builds for Turkey's largest telco as the country looks to store data locally. A further data center is being built in Çorlu, Northwestern Turkey.

Worth around TL2bn ($350m), the expansion will increase the company's footprint by around 33,000 sq m (355,000 sq ft). The facility will offer cloud services to public organizations and also help international firms store data in Turkey.

Murat Erkan, Turkcell’s current CEO, said during the inauguration ceremony: "Our investments in Turkey's data centers comply with international standards.

“Constantly expanding is a part of our wider vision for Turkey's data to be hosted in Turkey. Our centers will catalyze the continued growth of Turkey's digital economy with our proven reliability in providing data center and cloud service."

Turkcell gebze veri merkezi
– Turkcell

Digital sovereignty

In 2016 Turkey passed the Turkish Data Protection Act, stipulating that a company must obtain explicit consent to process customer data. Turkcell's ex-CEO, Kaan Terzioglu oversaw an entire swath of data center builds to make sure the company was compliant such as the İzmir and Gebze data centers. Before his resignation, Terzioglu announced plans for the Ankara and Çorlu facilities.

Terzioglu said: “Now, like oil, data is also a local asset. We are a data manufacturing country. But if we give the data we produce to others as raw data, we have to import it back as processed data.

"My goal is to make the data of each country stay in that country. It should be processed in that country as well. The industry of that country should create an opportunity for its artists, craftsmen, business people, entrepreneurs, and networkers.”

Following the EU

The Turkish Data Protection Act was designed to bring Turkey’s legislation in line with that of the European Union.

For some time, there have been discussions between EU officials about the threat of foreign entities harvesting data on European citizens and how governments could take advantage. This has culminated in Gaia-X, a cloud initiative designed for a pan-European market.

Last week, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier announced Gaia-X officially (before being hospitalized for falling off of the stage).

Altmaier said: “Germany and Europe needs a data infrastructure that ensures data sovereignty and enables the sharing of data on a broader and secure basis.

“Germany has a claim to digital sovereignty. That’s why it’s important to us that cloud solutions are not just created in the US.”

Gaia-X is a joint standard of APIs and data sovereignty rules for companies aiming to store data on the cloud within the EU.