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Rack Centre Now Positioned to Offer Cloud Computing Services – Coker



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Ayotunde Coker is the managing director of Rack Centre a data centre operator; he spoke to Nigeria CommunicationsWeek on the recent expansion of Rack Centre facility which enables it to offer commercial cloud computing services in Africa.

Cloud Computing and security. Do you think Nigeria, or Africa has the capacity to secure the data centres to guarantee local hosting of data?

Africa is ready for cloud. First, Data Centre business has been developing in Africa for few years now. I am delighted that Rack Centre is here in Nigeria; well-respected African brand. That is a good way to start.  We are certified to the highest tier level- the Uptime Institute. We are the first and only Carrier Neutral to be Tier III Constructed in Africa.

In Nigeria, there are two Data Centres companies that are certified constructed commercial facilities, the only country in Africa with such infrastructure. That is not a bad start. If you look at statistics South Africa has made an incredible start with Data Centres. The amount of capacity (that is ‘built’) available in South Africa is 50% of what is available in the rest of African countries. This is based on analysis by XALAM. It shows that there is a significant of untapped opportunity in the rest of Africa.

So, as a brand, we are prepared: we are scaling, doubling our capacity; certified to ISO 27:2001 and other certifications that give global bodies the confidence to do business with us.

Coming back to Africa; is the Continent ready for Cloud? Africa is ready for co-location and ready for cloud computing. We have seen the wave of what is happening in the use of technology- agriculture, for instance, start-ups and other big businesses are been created in this sector. I intentionally did not use FinTech’s, because it is not just about fintech (though they are very important). Technology is transforming banks, agriculture, oil and gas in Africa. Technology will be key in transforming government (e-government). States like Lagos are embarking on very crucial e-government initiatives.

So, there is a big room for co-location. Now, cloud needs data centres; if it is not in Nigeria it is elsewhere. A lot of African companies have been consuming cloud technology. But they have been consuming it abroad. Even a lot of them host their websites abroad. We have been hosting our website here in Rack Centre for about two years now and no downtime. So, we have started to see the shift

In Africa there is what I call the “Sachet Economy.” You know, people often won’t buy a packet of cigarettes; they will buy two sticks. They won’t buy a litre of milk but rather a small packet. Even water; they prefer to buy the sachets. And it has been very successful. But if you add the quantity of the sachet inside an empty bottle, the cost is about 50% higher; but that is what they can buy.

The only way you can turn IT to meet needs of the sachet economy is, first, to co-locate. Secondly, adopt cloud computing. Cloud enables you to buy what you need and consume and buy more as you grow or scale up. You don’t need to acquire big server when you only need 10% of it. There are a quite number of applications people want to use that require cloud, so cloud is what you can use to deliver services to the sachet economy.

An interesting part to it: if you look at Nigeria, one of the problems of consuming technology from abroad is due to latency. That ‘delay’ is annoying and it affects customer experience. Critical facilities hosted here take away that latency. And now you have Internet of Things (IoT) which requires quick ‘interactions. So, you host it closer to the point of consumption.

For instance, Nigeria’s population is near 200 million with a blessing of young middle-age (18-25 years); the age of consuming data. We also have a significant number of SMEs. If you add Micros businesses, they are about 35 million. So, 20 million SMEs (based on estimates that have been given over the last two years, the figure is more than the population of Belgium, Netherlands and Norway combined.

There will consume data if the services are available. Therefore, all we have to do is deliver cloud services. We have started doing that in Rack Centre. We bring down the threshold of the cost of access to technology through cloud services.

There is another angle to the SMEs. I call them the SMEs of the Professions- (every SME should be professional anyway). By SMEs of the Professions, I mean the accountants, doctors, engineering companies, law firms, etc. They are significant and need access to the right technologies at the right price. That is what cloud can provide.

Then, Nigerian broadband penetration is around 24% out of the target of 30% for this year. And there is still promise that we should hit the target before the end of this year. Now, as that continues grow alongside 4G LTE availability, it is really going to become an enabler to businesses.

So, from our point of view, our business is to going to transform the efficiency of the SMEs and it will impact the economy positively.

Cloud technology and data centre inter-relate and have the potential to transform our economy. It makes the SMEs, for instance, more efficient and productive and directly impacts the country’s GDP.

Your recent election as the Secretary General of African Datacentre Association (ADCA).

Actually, the Association was inaugurated early this year and there is a history to it. Last year, I was speaking at the Datacentre Conference in Morocco. We made a comment that Africa needs a Datacentre Association just like they have in Europe, because this is key infrastructure for Africa. The continent has chosen to leapfrog development using technology. So, we need to get the holistic view to build the industry and a voice for the industry in Africa.

So, one of the gentlemen there, Paul-Francois Cattier, MD (West Africa for Schneider Electric, Ivory Coast took on the task; to drive it. I met him at the Africa CEO Conference and he laid down some progressive reports and it took me just five minutes to say yes; we really have to make this happen.

We got calls from top leaders around Africa who aligned with the vision. Therefore, the Association was incorporated in West Africa (Ivory Coast). We then went on and launched it as African Datacentre Association at the Data Centre Conference in Morocco. which is a good indication of the importance of Africa in the global space in terms of cloud technology. It was a successful event.

We will be hiring an MD to operate the ADCA Secretariat. Also, the representation cuts across the entire continent. The Board has   Fatoumata Sarr Dieng of Sonatel Orange (Senegal) as the President. It is mixture of Francophone and Anglophone speaking countries; a good balance and pan-African representation.

I am delighted that we got it going and to have taken a role as the Secretary General. It is an honour.


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Andela Launches The Power of “X” Campaign



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Andela the company building distributed engineering teams with Africa’s top software engineers, is recruiting mid and senior level developers in 2019, as part of a new Power of ‘X’ campaign, as it looks to scale its operations and meet growing demand. This comes as more companies seek to enhance their technology teams via distributed workforces.

Since its launch in 2014, Andela has received over 140,000+ applications to it’s Technical Leadership Program and has trained 1,000+ software engineers, who have worked with global companies including Safaricom, Invision, Viacom, and Skillshare. Andela now accepts applications from experienced software engineers who are proficient in Ruby, Javascript

(React, Node, ES6+, Angular), Python (Django or Flask) and Native Mobile Technologies for iOS or Android. The move to recruit more senior technologists is an expansion of the company’s business model.

Andela engineers work on global challenges, within global engineering teams, yet play an important role in their local ecosystems. The 1,000+ Andela Software Engineers are central to Africa’s growing tech community, and are leaders or members of Forloop, Teencode, Startup Grind, Progate, Facebook Developer Circles, to mention a few. Andela is a gateway for experienced and talented engineers to become part of Africa’s most expansive network of technologists.

“The most effective way to become the best in your field is to work on the most complex problems and work alongside the best people. Andela’s value proposition is that our engineers work on global problems, within global teams, and are connected to the best engineering community in Africa. By this, we are empowering people to grow exponentially and accelerate their careers” says Omowale David-Ashiru, Country Director, Andela Nigeria.

She continues, “we are excited to be part of the first generation of limitless software engineers in Africa who will play a significant role in transforming the future of technology, which we hope will be central to Africa’s economic development.

“At Andela, we expect our Software Engineers to gain the skills, experiences and networks that will enable them to become innovators and tech leaders in Africa and we are excited to now open up our recruitment funnel to diversify and enhance our talent pool”.

The Power of “X” campaign was announced officially in Lagos this week. Titled, “An inclusive future for the next generation”, and attended by key industry stakeholders, leading technologists and media, the event saw the likes of Bankole Oluwafemi, Editor in Chief at TechCabal and Prosper Otemuyiwa, Co-founder of Forloop share insights about the future of

technology in Africa during their fireside chat session. Andela’s Director of Developer Programs, Jolomi Otumara and Director of Partner Engineering, Olawumi Onawumi who also featured in the chat session, talked about Andela’s plans for the next generation of tech talent in Africa.

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CoinCola Bitcoin Platform now in Nigeria



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Blockchain Technology is rapidly growing in different continents and many more people beginning to see the importance and relevance of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology in their different fields of life.

Nations and companies are gradually adopting cryptocurrency in exchange for goods and services instead of fiat. However, the African continent seems to be lagging behind in the adoption of this upcoming technology resulting from the lack of political will to accept the risk of innovation (in Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency). This can further be perceived in the reluctance to adopt the use of cryptocurrency in day-to-day transactions.

Though based in Hong Kong, Coincola aims to provide trustworthy trading and exchange services to all its users all around the world with Africa being a key place of interest.

Coincola believes that Blockchain technology will be essential to providing secure banking and payment services in the future and also that cryptocurrency will greatly improve the convenience of daily transactions and help to create a world that is financially borderless. Hence, our mission is to “connect everyone to this new digital asset economy.

Coincola is an OTC cryptocurrency marketplace and exchange designed to offer the best cryptocurrency trading experience for users and also offer fast and secure trading services at competitive fees and exchange rates.

In the OTC Marketplace, the trading platform allows people around the world to use their local FIAT currency to buy and sell Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), Dash (DASH) ,Tether (USDT) and Ripple (XRP). This is done on a person-to-person (P2P) basis. Users can post adverts for free and are only charged a trading fee of 0.7% of the traded amount once the transaction has been completed.

In the exchange market, CoinCola offers Bitcoin (BTC) and Tether (USDT) as base currencies and supports crypto-to-crypto trading pairs with Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Litecoin (LTC).  A trading fee of 0.2% is charged for an exchanged amount. However, there is a fixed withdrawal fee.

The new feature which allows users to trade bitcoin with gift card was added recently to fulfill a highly desired request by African users. Users can now buy bitcoin in Nigeria, Guana and everywhere else in Africa. They can buy bitcoin with gift cards, whether it is iTunes gift cards, Amazon gift cards, Google gift cards, Steam gift cards and more.

At Coincola, security is of utmost priority hence there are multiple layers of security including bank-level encryption, cold storage and SSL, ensuring that customers can trade with 100% confidence.

CoinCola provides an intuitive and easy verification process by building trust and transparency in the Blockchain ecosystem and ensuring compliance using KYC/AML regulations.

A mobile app is available to enable users to transact and trade comfortably while on the move.

Compared to Paxful trading fee which is 5% for every traded amount, CoinCola charges a fee of 0.7%, now, a lot is saved. Trading of your cryptocurrencies can be done via our mobile app or web version however Paxful only has its web version.

CoinCola supports BTC, ETH, LTC, BCH, XRP, USDT, and Dash but Paxful supports only BTC.

Security and users’ satisfaction are our priorities, therefore CoinCola provides a 24/7 full support and inquiry on their platform as well as on their Telegram channel.

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MainOne Pledges N25billion to Digitization of Lagos



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MainOne has launched its “Digital Lagos: Broadband for All” campaign initiative to enable the digital transformation of Lagos state through deployment of ubiquitous broadband infrastructure across the state.

MainOne’s ambition for Lagos is inspired by the vision of Lagos Governor-elect Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who noted presciently that “Technology will improve the rule of law, education, ease of doing business and government processes of Lagos”.

At the campaign launch organized in Lagos to announce its plans earlier in the week, Funke Opeke, Chief Executive Officer, MainOne, said, the company is keen to collaborate with the Lagos State Government and all other relevant stakeholders to build Digital Lagos and help citizens from all walks of life realize the benefits of broad, sustainable economic growth, modernized education, health, and other services delivery, and improved quality of life.

“MainOne is pleased to have the opportunity to present its plan for Digital Lagos, a proven path to ubiquitous broadband connectivity. This plan will involve the investment by MainOne of over N25 billion over the next 2-3 years to develop critical fiber optic infrastructure to enable broadband services across Lagos state,” she said.

A presentation was made by Mr. Judah Levine, CEO HIP Consult, a Washington DC based, independent, management consulting firm with specialization in ICT in emerging markets. HIP Consult worked with MainOne in developing a concept paper and implementation plan for Digital Lagos. Mr. Levine touched on the research done for Digital Lagos, its implementation plans and subsequent impact in Lagos State.

Opeke said MainOne has pioneered investments in critical internet-enabling infrastructure across West Africa, Nigeria, and Lagos. To date, the company has invested over N120 billion funded by leading African banks and has proven its capabilities in expanding and densifying localized fiber networks in neighboring Ogun and Edo States by deploying almost 1,000kms of fiber in partnership with Facebook to expand broadband access and connect government institutions and other areas of interest.

Opeke said, as the licenced InfraCo for Lagos zone, the resulting network to be built by MainOne would provide essential connectivity to critical State institutions, cover over 300 government agencies, up to 10,000 State CCTV locations, Telecom operators and ISPs, public Wi-Fi hotspots, Smart City components / IOT devices, in addition to Enterprises.

In Lagos, MainOne’s existing 700-kilometer network already covers major population centers and Yaba, where it provides connectivity for the majority of the Yabacon ecosystem and has connected startups like Andela, ccHub, Paga, and Flutterwave and others that have raised up to USD500million Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Nigeria.

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