Men working in a PAIX data centre in Africa.

PAIX data centres raise Africa’s digital economy to a higher level

Segments

Start-ups & SMEs

Countries

Kenya

Sectors

Manufacturing

Solutions

DGGF

There is a world to be gained in Africa when it comes to strengthening digital infrastructure. Some years ago the Dutch company PAIX (Pan African Internet Exchange Data Centres) stepped into that huge market with state-of-the-art cloud and carrier-neutral data centres. Companies store important data on servers in these centres and connect clients to one another within them through so-called ‘interconnectivity’. In this way they contribute to Africa’s internet economy and improve online services on the continent. A loan from the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF) gives PAIX an opportunity to form the ‘heart of Africa’s digital economy’, as the PAIX company slogan puts it.

Beating heart of digital infrastructure

PAIX has developed and managed cloud and carrier-neutral data centres in Africa, also known as ‘interconnection hubs’, since 2011. These hubs make access to the internet and data usage affordable and faster, thereby improving the online services of companies. The neutral data centres of PAIX are international internet nodes that form the heart of digital infrastructure in countries such as Ghana, Ivory Coast and Kenya.

Neutral stands for ‘operating on neutral soil’. This is important to telecom providers that are competing with one another, since they are often unwilling to share and store their information in data centres belonging to competitors.

700 new data centres needed in Africa

Some years ago PAIX expanded into Africa, a market with gigantic growth potential. Internet and smartphone use is on the rise in many African countries as a result of economic and population growth. However, local digital infrastructure cannot keep pace with the increased demand. A recent study by the African Data Centres Association (ADCA) has shown that Africa needs 700 data centres over the next decade to meet the growing demand for digital data.

At present the internet is often slow because of the lack of cables and because data sometimes has to make a detour of 10,000 kilometres, which is known as ‘latency’. Data centres are important for fast and reliable internet, an added benefit of which is attracting investment and creating jobs. As PAIX states on its website: ‘Connect, transact and grow’.

 

Data center cables of PAIX.

A recent study by the African Data Centres Association (ADCA) has shown that Africa needs 700 data centres over the next decade to meet the growing demand for digital data.

Expanding data centres in Ghana and Kenya

At present, more than 40 connectivity providers, internet exchanges and leading cloud and digital-media platforms offer their network connections through PAIX data centres. PAIX was founded by a team of professionals from the data centre and telecommunications sector. PAIX works with a staff of four from its head office in Amsterdam, with a further 30 employees in Africa. A subsidiary has been operating in Ghana since 2018 under the name PAIX Data Centres.

Owing to increasing demand, PAIX wants to expand its data centre in Ghana, and this spring saw the completion of a new data centre in Nairobi, Kenya. For the financing of both projects, the company turned to the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF), one of the programmes operated by Invest International on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“The neutral data centres of PAIX are international internet nodes that form the heart of digital infrastructure in countries such as Ghana, Ivory Coast and Kenya.”

Fulfilling PAIX ambitions

Wouter van Hulten, founder of PAIX data centres and previously involved in building up the biggest data centre firm in Europe: “What started with a request from an international client to help improve its data centre in Mombasa, Kenya, has gradually expanded into other African countries. For example, we have taken over and expanded a data centre in Ghana and built a new data centre in Kenya. Now we want to expand into Ivory Coast, Senegal and other countries. We have gained a lot of experience in the Netherlands with the construction and management of data centres.”

“We share that knowledge and experience with African countries and companies. We sought investors to fulfil our ambitions and scale up more rapidly. That’s how we came into contact with the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF). As Dutch entrepreneurs, we are very happy and positive with the process and our collaboration with the DGGF team, and with the loan that enables us to expand our activities in Africa.”

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Wouter van Hulten of PAIX discussing plans with his team.

Data centres are important for fast and reliable internet, an added benefit of which is attracting investment and creating jobs. Here Wouter van Hulten, founder of PAIX, discusses plans with his team. Photo: Joost Bastmeijer.

Loan from DGGF

After receiving the application (initially through the Netherlands Enterprise Agency RVO) and a business plan, DGGF provided PAIX with a total of 2.75 million euro to expand its data centre network in Africa. The loan is intended for the construction of data centres in Ghana and Kenya. Investment analyst Frans Pluim Mentz of Invest International: “DGGF wants to make an impact on the ICT sector in African countries, not only by creating local jobs, but also by contributing to industry, innovation and infrastructure, as described by SDG 9. The ambitions of PAIX align with these goals. Improved digital infrastructure gives a positive boost to the online services of African clients of PAIX, among them local internet providers, banks and telecom firms.”

Read more about DGGF

A subsidiary of PAIX has been operating in Ghana since 2018. Owing to increasing demand, PAIX wants to expand its data centre in Ghana.

“Improved digital infrastructure gives a positive boost to the online services of African clients of PAIX, among them local internet providers, banks and telecom firms.”

Wouter van Hulten

Founder of PAIX

Local jobs and knowledge transfer

The PAIX data centres make a substantial contribution to digital infrastructure in the African countries where the company is active. That’s good for the companies that use the services of PAIX and good for the economy. Directly and indirectly, data centres create new jobs that demand a high level of technical education. The company aims to work as much as possible with local people and specifically seeks highly educated youths in the ICT sector. PAIX employees receive training to work in data centres and are paid much more than the minimum wage, in addition to receiving pension contributions and health insurance that provides them and their families with good medical care. PAIX works closely with the European data centre industry on the transfer of specialist knowledge in the areas of connectivity, security and the operation of complex equipment.

Read more on the PAIX website
PAIX team in Kenya, Africa.

PAIX aims to work as much as possible with local people and specifically seeks highly educated youths in the ICT sector. Meet (a part of) the team! Photo: Joost Bastmeijer.

The PAIX project wants to make an impact by:

  • contributing to local employment and knowledge transfer.
  • stimulating the ICT sector and the digital economy in Africa.
  • creating equal opportunities for men and women.
  • helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals SDG’s 5 (Gender equality), 8 (Decent work and economic growth) and 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure).
Read more on our view on impact

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Frans Pluim Mentz Investment Analyst SME & Mid Corporates
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