Hyperscalers, such as Meta, Google, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services, and their Asia-based counterparts including Alibaba and Tencent, demand data centre space and performance an order of magnitude larger than almost any enterprise’s requirements. Meeting their needs requires a pan-African network of core data centres interconnected over hyper scale terrestrial and subsea cable systems that the cloud giants can leverage for their products and services.
Another significant shift in the internet ecosystem is that large cloud providers are becoming full or partial investors in hyperscale subsea cables. The subtext is clear: the cloud is evolving, and cloud operators are increasingly coming to these shores to deliver higher-performance services. The cables and data centres interconnecting their facilities globally and connecting them to their customers are critical to the next evolution of the internet.
What do the cloud hyper scalers require? Both dedicated, high-performance connectivity and space and power for their high-specification equipment; so connectivity and data centres go hand in hand.
This means that open access network connectivity across a range of terrestrial and subsea routes, and open access data centres across the African continent, are essential to pour petrol into the ecosystem and benefit Africa. Large hyper scalers and content players in South Africa and elsewhere on the continent provide internet service providers (ISPs} and large enterprises - who need to be in world-class data centres - with an opportunity to come to the same locations and benefit from the resulting proximity and scale.
The cloud players have the financial might to invest in subsea cables like the 2Africa and Equiano cable systems that Wiocc has landed on the east coast of South Africa and in Nigeria. At its core is the premise that those who want to play on the cable must play by the rules and ensure the cables are truly open access.
This latest iteration of the infrastructure supporting the internet removes the gatekeeper role and the charges normally associated with it. Discarding the gatekeeper model and driving true competition will fast-track transformation across the region.
Whilst tasking each landing party with ensuring open access required a deliberate break from the status quo, being open access is not new to Wiocc. The company has always operated in an open-access wholesale space offering its connectivity services to any carrier, internet service provider, cloud operator or content provider requiring them. Working with all parties results in the creation of an open-access ecosystem based on trust and long-term relationships. The reason this is critical now is because the next evolution of the internet requires collaboration and open access for all players.