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'More data centres could lower bandwidth costs'

'More data centres could lower bandwidth costs'.

According to experts, if more data centres are opened in Africa they would benefit end users by providing cheaper bandwidth costs and less latency in delivering content. But this can only happen if more companies host their content inland.

"There are two things that affect content being hosted outside, that is cost and latency," says Ranjith Cherickel, co-founder and CEO of Icolo, a new colocation data centre in Kenya.

"If you host content in Europe you have to pay for bandwidth cost to Kenya. That is expensive. The reasons [companies] have not [hosted locally] is because the infrastructure wasn't there," Cherickel explained.

He said that for every 150 to 200 kilometres, about 1 millisecond is lost. Between Europe and Kenya, the distance is about 8,000 kilometres and that equates to 900 milliseconds.

"If the content is hosted in Nairobi the latency is zero," he added. Against this backdrop, Icolo, a collocation and carrier neutral data centre, plans to build two centres in Kenya to address the need for local exchange.

Cherickel was speaking on the sidelines of the official launch of the Nairobi data centre, scheduled for construction within the next seven months at a cost of Kshs 850 million (US$8.5 million). The Mombasa data centre will be completed by March next year at a cost of Kshs 600 million (US$6 million).

He said that they have already received interest from over 40 companies including Seacom.

The Mombasa and Nairobi data centres will consist of 226 and 268 racks respectively. The Nairobi location will be stationed at the Catholic University in Karen and will occupy one acre, while the Mombasa is located on a 0.6 acre land.

"We are building world class infrastructure and we are very competitive," Cherickel said. "What they [companies hosting overseas] are paying in bandwidth costs [for transferring data], will be far more significant than what they would pay with our hosting costs."

An Internet Society report in 2015, titled "Promoting Local Content Hosting to Develop the Internet Ecosystem" depicted how much money is spent in transferring data from off-shore data centres.

"For one of the larger Rwandan websites we examined, we found that the content developer achieved a saving of USD 111 per year by hosting overseas, but that this imposed USD 13,500 in transit costs for the Rwandan ISPs to deliver the content to local users," the report denoted.

Icolo is aiming to make Mombasa a opportune location for major ISPs and internet companies such as Microsoft to route their data through the town to make connectivity seamless. They added that Mombasa is a great location given its connectivity to various undersea cables and this could open up the East Africa region.

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