Strive completes acquisition of Standard Bank’s Jo’burg data centre

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By Alois Vinga

ZIMBABWE telecoms businessman Strive Masiyiwa has completed a transaction which will see one of his companies owning Standard Bank’s Johannesburg data centre.

Data centres are locations in which computing and networking equipment is concentrated for the purpose of collecting, storing, processing, distributing or allowing access to large amounts of data.

They have existed in one form or another since the advent of computers.

In a recent update, Masiyiwa said transactions of this kind can take up to a year to complete due to numerous processes involved.

“We used a combination of equity and sold shares to existing shareholders, and also debt to complete the financing.

“In each situation, we had to make big ‘pitches to investors’.

“Yes, I had to lead some of them myself, and it sometimes felt like Shark Tank, except it was tougher and each pitch takes weeks to complete,” he said.

He said completing the transaction was not an easy ride due to the Covid-19 pandemic challenges.

Masiyiwa said the development was a milestone achievement having started off with one data centre in Kenya a few years back before being inspired to acquire such assets through the overwhelming demand by banks among other service providers.

The acquisition was made by one of his companies, Liquid Telecom’s Africa Data Centre which became the new owner of Standard Bank Data Centre.

“We are forbidden from disclosing the terms of the deal through Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) with the seller.

“In buying the business, we are boosting the size and scale of Liquid’s Data Centre subsidiary known as Africa Data Centres (ADC),” said Masiyiwa.

Standard Bank Data Center is a 65,000 sq m (700,000 sq ft) site, built to Tier IV standards, previously focused on secure IT systems for banks.

Built for US$87 million in 2010, the location consists of two buildings that allow for up to eight data centre modules of 1,500 sq m (16,000 sq ft) each.

The previous owners, Standard Bank said they no longer needed the facility as they move to Amazon Web Services and Azure cloud.

Africa DC already operates one facility in the Johannesburg area, a 3,000 sq m (27,000 sq ft) site of around 7MW, while a new site is being built nearby.

The company, part of the Liquid Telecom Group, also operates facilities in Cape Town, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Harare, Zimbabwe; and Kigali, Rwanda. Africa DC also plans to open a data centre Egypt.