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Nigeria Can Become Africa’s Internet Hub If… – MainOne



Vremudia Oghene-Ruemu, MDXi’s product manager, Data Center in this interview assesses the data centre market in Nigeria, challenges confronting the line of business, the partnership with IXPN, MainOne’s Open Connect Service, among others. Excerpts

Data Centre Operations in Nigeria

The Data Center landscape in Nigeria is still new, gradually developing. We have a few data centers for our economic size and population, which means there is opportunity for more operators to come in.

We are gradually building a digital economy, which requires cloud-based services and applications and data centers.

A rising confluence of demand and supply factors is making Nigeria’s data center business one of the most dynamic ICT market segments in Africa.

As broadband adoption has boomed, demand for cloud services has emerged and is expected to surpass supply soon.

To cater to this demand, MainOne’s Data Center Company, MDXi is also building more Data Centers not only in Nigeria, but other parts of West Africa. We have started our second Tier III Data Center in Nigeria in Sagamu, Ogun State; we have a Data Center in Accra and should launch another in Cote D’Ivoire soon.

We believe that other players will follow suit and build to match the growing demand. Right now, South Africa has the largest data center presence on the continent, with North Africa following closely but Nigeria and other West Africans countries are expected to deepen Data Center penetration over the next few years.

Main Challenges Confronting Your Line of Business

The major challenge for Nigerian businesses right now is the high cost of operation. Data Centers have huge power requirements and usually recourse to direct connection to the national grid, which is a significant investment in addition to backups, which include huge generators with attendant costs of diesel ad maintenance.

Operators need to import equipment into the country, but do not have access to FOREX, as the Central Bank has refused to give telcos priority. It has been ingenuity and financial knowhow that has kept players like us going in this tough terrain.

Nigeria is yet to fully implement data domiciliation and a lot of government and enterprise businesses still hosts Nigeria’s data abroad, rather than patronize indigenous data centers.

The Federal Government needs to enable policy to drive our diversification from oil-dependent to services-focused; such as pioneer status for indigenous operators, tax exemptions, data residency and priority access to Forex will go a long way to help Nigeria’s data center operators and enable us be at par with South Africa and other climes.

In China for example, foreign operators are mandated to keep Chinese data within the country. Europe, Russia, Malaysia and Indonesia have also implemented Data Domiciliation regulation.

Nigeria must also proactively protect its citizen’s data and mitigate huge security risks by repatriating all Nigerian data in-country. This will limit the country’s exposure to cyber-attacks, save us huge international internet transit costs and enable Nigeria’s data center capacity to grow quicker.

We need to understand that apart from glaring issues such as national security and capital flight; local data hosting has the ability to drive job growth and improve the lives of our teeming youth population.

Local data domiciliation has worked and is still working in countries with strong digital economies around the world. All you have to do is look around the globe to see what having data hosted in-country has done for local innovation, technology development and economies in general.

Partnership with The Nigerian Internet Exchange (IXPN)

This move is significant in many ways. As a data center provider, there are two goals. The first goal is to ensure that businesses that have high availability requirements can run their technology operations without breaking the bank.

The second goal, is to ensure that the infrastructure running these highly available services can be reached irrespective of the networks that users connect from.

To ensure that end users communicate effectively in this rapidly evolving digital ecosystem, network providers need to enable the exchange of user data in the quickest and most efficient manner using a process called peering. Peering is made possible by an Internet exchange point which in the simplest of terms is a physical meeting point where networks, content and service providers connect and directly exchange data.

This results in the significant reduction of costs and increase in speeds at which data is exchanged thereby leading to consumer friendly network subscription rates and superb end user experiences.

This is where our partnership with the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) is relevant. By hosting and partnering with the IXPN, our data center customers now have quicker, less costly access to local, regional and global connectivity via simple physical cable connections called cross connects.With these cross connects and close proximity to the Internet Exchange, our customers immediately have instant access to an ecosystem of network providers, cloud platforms, content providers and business partners while saving costs on expensive wide area network links and ensuring high network performance.

By combining our vast local, regional and global network resources with the IXPN’s capabilities, we can now directly connect and provide interconnection services to local operators, regional operators, global carriers, content providers, ISPs among others. Our data center’s value proposition is thus to ensure that people that host in our data center are able to reach their users seamlessly with great user experience and at lower costs.

Role of The IXPN

The Internet Exchange is the backbone of digital economies around the world and a key ingredient to growing the online economy in Nigeria.

The role of the IXPN is to ensure the local exchange of data between users by enabling peering between the networks that serve these users; hence the popular saying “keeping local traffic local”.

An example is a situation where an email from User A in Lagos to User B in Lagos needs to travel across User A’s provider network to an International location where User A and User B’s networks connect just because they cannot connect locally.

You can also view this practically from the standpoint of regional airport hubs which serve as an exchange point for passengers between different airlines served by that airport.

Airline passengers will definitely not fancyif they travel long hours to switch flights outside their country to reach a destination in their country just because a common airport that serves multiple airlines in the country does not exist. Routing internet traffic is similar to you flying to Ghana to get a connecting flight to Abuja, because there is no local interconnection point.

Mainone’s Open Connect Service
With Open Connect we are creating a powerful Internet ecosystem in the same physical location as the Nigerian Internet Exchange, and providing a platform for participants to exchange data in real-time at lightning fast speeds.

The idea behind Open Connect is that we are enabling owners of products, services and content with high response requirements become more service-oriented by bringing the networks closer to them. Being closer to the networks significantly enhances their ability to improve their end user experiences. For instance, today’s customer will seriously consider changing banks if they have an internet banking application that takes thirty seconds to open a login page, and takes several other painstaking minutes to conduct a transaction.

Main Benefits of Open Connect
Open Connect provides better network performance for the networks and their end users. It also ensures low latency connections which in turn enhance the end user experience while enabling local data exchange, local content and local hosting.

Before Open Connect, How Did Operators Connect?

In the past, operators connected Internet traffic via networks outside the country at interconnection locations where global content providers reside. This put more costs on internet providers, slowed down internet connections and put the end user at a disadvantage from a cost and user experience.

For voice services, interconnections were achieved through clearing houses some of which are present locally today. These methods of interconnection are no longer sustainable with the volumes of broadband traffic we are experiencing in Nigeria today via current explosion in content and smartphones.

The Nigerian Internet Exchange is currently enabling a limited amount of interconnection between operators today but we believe that a synergy between MDXi and the Exchange using Open Connect as a platform will take interconnections to the next level in Nigeria and West Africa.

With The Launch Of Open Connect Would You Now Consider Yourself A Carrier Neutral Data Centre?

We have always been a carrier neutral data center. For the benefit of your readers, a carrier neutral data center is a facility that allows its customers connect their hosted infrastructure to any network of their choice.

MDXi is structured as a totally separate legal entity from MainOne even though we are a subsidiary company. Customers in MDXi are free to choose any network provider that suits their business requirements and have done so since Day 1. As a result, customers in MDXi are connected to their various locations by over 20 different network operators and ISPs today.

Launching Open Connect expands our commitment to providing that open access, carrier neutral environment and bringing it closer to the Internet Exchange for all our customers to thrive.

Of What Benefit Is This To Over-The-Top (OTT) And Content Providers Across The Continent?

Until around 4 years ago, OTT operators like Facebook and Google hosted outside the continent because the infrastructure to host locally wasnot available and the traffic they generated in Nigeria was quite limited with low internet penetration.

This narrative is however changing as the facilities to host such infrastructure is now available on the continent. Africa’s huge population and rapid mobile broadband adoption is also a major business driver for these large players as they recruit these large number of users to their platforms.

Nigeria is the most populous country on the continent and we are beginning to see more content providers, producers and distributors develop significant interest in our local market. Five years ago we didnot have applications like Facebook Live, Instagram live and WhatsApp video. We also did not have Internet banking and the level of E-Commerce applications that require real-time online connections as we do today.

One of the key value propositions for content is a robust user experience. Accessing content hosted outside the country provides a significantly diminished user experience compared to content hosted within the country. By leveraging local hosting and Open Connect, content providers will improve their user experiences significantly, scale their products and increase user subscriptions which will lead to more revenue.

Plans to Build an Internet Hub in West Africa

By hosting the Nigerian Internet Exchange and leveraging our already active connections to the Ghanaian, Amsterdam and London Internet exchanges we have significantly expanded the reach of our network to other networks in the region and globally.

What is next is to ensure that our partnership with various internet exchanges and content providers across the continent continues to grow using products such as Open Connect to explore new frontiers for interconnections.
We will leverage our strengths as West Africa’s most connected data center to continually localize traffic, reduce transmission costs and improve user experiences which will catalyze the development of other industries such as gaming, content and media which are highly dependent on superior internet connections.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Canon showcases cutting edge technology at CABSAT 2018




By peter oluka

Canon showcased its latest industry-leading innovations at CABSAT 2018, the leading broadcast, satellite and creative media event in the Middle East and Africa region.

The leader in imaging solutions also provided visitors with the opportunity to experience its full range of security solutions, Pro Video portfolio and professional imaging products first-hand at dedicated shooting areas and end to end workflow scenarios.

At the three-day event, Canon unveiled the latest additions to its Pro-Video segment with the launch of its 4K XF Series cameras, XF405 and XF400, which is in addition to the recent launch of the EOS C200, the 4K compact digital cinema camera from the esteemed Cinema EOS range. Under the XA series, XA-11 and XA-15 mark their entry into the region along with the low light network camera with remarkable performance, the ME20F-SHN.

The company also presented evolved and seamless workflow solutions that enable more efficient and cost-effective production for broadcasters and filmmakers.

Speaking about the event Roman Troedthandl, managing director – Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA) said, “Canon’s presence in CABSAT, which is considered to be one of the most important events in broadcast and media technology regionally and globally; is integral to showcasing our commitment towards playing a vital role in the cinema industry. Celebrating the incredible potential of filmmakers in Africa, Canon is set on clearing any hardships they may face enroute, through offering all the necessary technical and technological support they require, and this year we are going even further and extending our participation towards supporting young and aspiring filmmakers.”

“We also understand that there is an increasing integration of 4K into mainstream television dramas, documentaries and movies, and we are committed to continually evolving to meet the fluctuating needs of broadcasters and filmmakers with the latest additions to our innovative Cinema EOS series. As well as consistently strengthening and enhancing our partnerships with Tier 1 partners in markets like Nigeria, Morocco, West Africa and Egypt while hand in hand expanding our presence through an extended network of Tier 2 partners in Egypt, Nigeria and Morocco,” Troedthandl added.

Designed to benefit broadcasters and filmmakers alike, The EOS C200 is the first Cinema EOS camera to feature the revolutionary Cinema RAW light format which provides the same flexibility in colour grading as Cinema RAW in a smaller file size, enabling filmmakers to record internally to a CFast 2.0™ card.

Canon Team at the conference

Delivering incredible low-light performance and perfect for critical surveillance operations, the ME20F-SHN produces full colour and Full HD resolution images in limited light scenarios and packs in network capability and built-in video analytics into a lightweight and compact body. These innovations also support the convenience of seamless network integration with the ability to fit directly into existing workflows.

In addition to showcasing its full range of 4K, Full HD and HDR products, Canon also provided broadcast and cinematography professionals with a variety of end to end workflow scenarios including shooting experiences as well as review and editing processes. The ecosystem of videography was brought to life via a touch and try product section, dedicated shooting areas of Maasai Mara and a bakery area, a security zone and a chroma key area. Canon had also teamed up with the global leader in manual and robotic camera support systems, Vinten, to demonstrate the versatility of the ME200 and C200.

“Canon is set on becoming even more than a technical partner to customers in the African continent. We understand that the region is flourishing and becoming one of the rapidly growing media markets in the world; thus, we will continue expanding our footprint in the market via encouraging young talents and catering to their technical as well as support-related needs.” Said Somesh Adukia, sales & marketing director B2C – Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA). “We are very excited to be hosting a specific panel discussion during CABSAT that tackles the future of the filmmaking industry in Africa, as well as reviving our support to the youth by engaging them in a Canon Filmmaking Challenge; one of many initiatives which have been set to further support the filmmaking ecosystem in the region” He added.

Bringing the event to a successful closure, Canon awarded the shortlisted filmmakers for their efforts in bringing their stories to life. The announcement was made during the panel discussion which covered the future of the filmmaking industry in Africa alongside 3 prominent actors Injy El Mokkadem from Egypt, Omar Lotfi from Morocco and TY Bello from Nigeria.

Where the first-place winner, (Youness Hamiddine) from Morocco was awarded a (5D Mark 4) Canon camera. The second place winner (May El Hossamy) from Egypt and the third place winner (Ifeoma Nkiruka Chukwuogo) from Nigeria have both also received a (6D Mark 2) Canon camera.

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TrillzApp Unveiled, Assists Event Managers Harness Feedback



By peter oluka

A robust and smart mobile app that uses location technology to give users notification of events happening in their location and based on interests, TrillzApp has been launched.

In addition to aiding users to book events seamlessly online, TrillzApp which was developed by five students, was designed to help users keep tabs on happenings in their area while helping them express their thoughts about events through ratings, comments and chats.

Chatting with Nigeria CommunicationsWeek, Stanley Ezeh, TrillzApp’s team lead, Critical Analyst, Business co-founder, said, “TrillzApp solves a number of needs, namely: keeping track of events and opportunities in particular areas; connect with people and places in a particular and seamless Ticket sales and event management. Furthermore, it helps event organizers get feedback from attendees.”

He said that the app taps from the power of Google Maps; gigantic map software that has a number of applications and has been designed to be used in various apps that require map services. “TrillzApp only uses some features of the Google maps to further assist users in getting directions to venues of events and happenings among others. Google maps has no local content for events; neither does it provide an avenue for users to interact with one another. Therefore, we are in no form of competition with Google”, Ezeh added.

The Team Lead who explained that TrillzApp beta version was launched in November 2017; in December of the same year, the app was out of Beta.

However, the only available version of the app is Android version. “iOS version will be released soon”, he told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek, but without stating that “Sponsoring the TrillzApp project hasn’t been easy especially as we are students. Initially, being part of the Roar Nigeria Incubation Hub was supposed to be a plus to us since we were promised funding, support, training and mentorship, but due to unknown logistic and administrative reasons, these promises have barely been fulfilled and the funds have not been disbursed to us.

“Because we were determined and passionate to make an impact in our society by helping young people discover opportunities, events and happenings in different locations, we devised various strategies to help us raise funds on our own.

“We often had to skip meals and deprive ourselves of certain luxury and privileges to be able to squeeze out money from our meagre monthly allowances from our parents. Sometimes, we had to do some extra jobs for friends to get funds to complement funds raised from family”.

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Queen Elizabeth (II) Honours Interswitch Chairman, Ken Olisa with Knighthood



Sir Ken Olisa the recently appointed Chairman of Interswitch has been honoured with knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.


The Nigerian-born British Businessman and Philanthropist has been recognized, amongst other notable individuals, in Queen Elizabeth (II)’s New Year Honours.


Sir Olisa is a British businessman with a career in technology that commenced at IBM and spans well over 40 years.


He founded and led the technology merchant bank Interregnum and is also the founder and chairman of Restoration Partners, an independent boutique technology merchant bank, reputed as architects of the Virtual Technology Cluster model.


He is currently a Director of Thomson Reuters.


In 2015, he became the first black Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London having been appointed by Her Majesty the Queen.


By this development, Olisa, the first British-born black man to serve as a Director of a FTSE-100 business is now officially honoured with a Knighthood for services to Business and Philanthropy in the United Kingdom.


An advocate of social inclusion, he is Chair of the Shaw Trust, supporting the disabled and chronically unemployed to find work; founding Chair of the Powerlist Foundation, supporting future leaders from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) and disadvantaged backgrounds; a former Governor of the Peabody Trust; and a former Non-Executive Director of the West Lambeth NHS Trust.


Mitchell Elegbe, Group CEO of Interswitch, Commenting on the development, said that “Sir Ken has distinguished himself in professional and social spheres with a remarkable pedigree of service in the public domain.


“A leading light and embodiment of the maxim, “Do well, and do good”, He has not only charted an impressive course across the business terrain, but has also done notable social good; actively championing, and investing in many charities and non-profit organizations which work to mitigate the disadvantages faced by so many in his society.


“We are extremely proud of this most recent recognition and knighthood by The Queen for his services, and it is a great way to start the new year, both for Sir Ken and for Interswitch.”


Interswitch founded in 2002, is active across the entire payments value chain and currently processes over 4 billion unique transactions yearly, with a value of over USD 38 billion.


A recognized leader in the payments space in Nigeria, the company has sustained impressive business growth in recent years, garnering acclaim from Deloitte and others as one of Africa’s fastest growing technology business.

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