The deal, worth around $320 million, will see Equinix acquire a wealth of African connectivity infrastructure, including a trio of data centres and the eponymous MainOne submarine cable

Yesterday, US colocation data centre specialist Equinix announced its intentions to purchase Nigeria-based digital real estate company MainOne in a deal worth around $320 million.

The deal represents Equinix’s first expansion into Africa, with the company hailing the move as the start of a wider push into the continent. 

“With more than 200 million people, Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and, along with Ghana, has become an established data center hub. This makes the acquisition a pivotal entry point for Equinix into the continent,” said Equinix in a statement.

The acquisition will transfer ownership of MainOne’s three data centres in West Africa, one situated in each of Nigeria, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast, with a fourth currently under construction. It also confers the ownership of MainOne’s land, “which is probably enough to build another 10 data centers,” according to Equinix vice president for emerging markets, Judith Gardiner. 

In addition to the data centres, MainOne’s assets also include around 1,200km of terrestrial fibre deployed in Nigeria, as well as the MainOne submarine cable, a system roughly 7,000km long that spans from Portugal along the West Coast of Africa to Nigeria.

Africa is a particularly exciting market for data centre players right now. With a young population and rapidly increasing data usage, data centre capacity is becoming something of a hot topic on the continent, with digital real estate companies increasingly competing with hyperscalers like Amazon and Microsoft to capture the market before it booms.  

It should come as no surprise that Equinix, one of the largest data centre companies in the world, with 237 data centres across 27 countries and a market value of around $71.7 billion, should be looking to stake its claim to the region as soon as possible. 

But Africa has not been the company’s only new market in recent years. In 2020, the company purchased 13 data centres from Bell Canada for $780 million, and later the same year expanded into India for the first time with the acquisition of GPX India for $161 million. 

India, much like Africa, is currently undergoing something of a digital revolution, with a similarly youthful population and rapidly increasing broadband and mobile penetration.

As always, the Equinix deal is subject to regulatory approval, but is expected to close in Q1 2022.


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