Data Centres and the Future of Digitalisation in Africa

07 August 2023

Wojtek Piorko, Managing Director Africa at Vertiv, discusses the company’s commitment to supporting Africa’s digital growth

Wojtek Piorko, Managing Director Africa at Vertiv, discusses the company’s commitment to supporting Africa’s digital growth

Data centres are the backbone of the digital world, powering the operations of businesses across industries. Africa is poised to become a key player in this market as the world becomes more digital and the demand for data centres rises.

Vertiv sees huge potential in Africa’s market and is positioning itself as a company that can provide quality solutions and services for this segment, together with the assurance that comes with its wellknown brands and its long history in the industry.

Comprehensive solutions to enable digitalisation

Vertiv provides a wide range of solutions that enable businesses to leverage the power of digitalisation. By connecting physical infrastructure to the digital world, Vertiv enables customers to unlock the potential of digitalisation, big data, Artificial Intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT), bringing together hardware, software, analytics and ongoing services to enable its customers’ vital applications to run continuously, perform optimally and grow with their business needs.

Vertiv’s portfolio of power, cooling and IT infrastructure solutions and services - which extends from the cloud to the edge of the network - solves the most important challenges facing today’s data centres, communication networks and commercial and industrial facilities.

Within the Europe, Middle East and African (EMEA) region specifically, Vertiv has 10 manufacturing locations, in excess of 65 service centres, five customer experience centres, over 650 service field engineers and more than 100 technical support personnel in place.

A long-term commitment to the continent

As outlined in 2009 by Donald Kaberuka, the then-President of the African Development Bank Group, a long-term investment in the region from investors and those who wish to do business here is vital for Africa’s growth1. Vertiv has been present locally for a number of years now and with our new ‘Africa for Africa’ project, we are strengthening this position further.

The initiative is planned to forge even closer partnerships with local clients and we are enabling this by creating a new internal structure that focuses strongly on leveraging local skills and knowledge within our team, as well as setting up offices close to customers that i n c o r p o r a t e Customer Experience Centres - as undertaken recently in both Kenya and South Africa, for instance.

We have also officially opened our premises in Johannesburg, South Africa, which is Vertiv’s head office for Africa, and are assessing the opportunity to open more offices in the future.

Unpacking ‘Africa for Africa’

With regards to customer expectations, I believe that the following requirements are key:

  • Understanding the local environment and specific customer needs;
  • Providing quality technical advice across the whole timeline of the project; and
  • Delivering reliable after-sales support.

From discussions with our customers and partners in Africa, we understood they are concerned about current lead times, currency challenges (devaluation and availability) but also limitations on local skills. However, we are ready to deal with any challenges, and exceed customer needs, through such positives as the following:

  • Our team of Vertiv experts being based as close to our customers as possible, currently in Cairo, Egypt; Casablanca, Morocco; Lagos, Nigeria; Johannesburg, South Africa; and Nairobi, Kenya;
  • Local solutions and application engineering, operations and services teams providing expert support across whole project timeline;
  • The fact that each office is equipped with the latest technology in our Customer Experience Centres, which provide various courses and education platforms for presales, sales and service certification;
  • A local product development team and manufacturing facility in South Africa to allow for localisation/ customisation and speed of delivery; and
  • Our wide network of certified partners on both the sales and service sides.

Moving forward

The growth of the data centre market in Africa presents an opportunity to spur economic growth in many other sectors across the region. As data centres continue to expand, they will create new possibilities for employment, both directly and indirectly, in a number of different verticals including education, government, healthcare and construction, allowing companies to accomplish tasks with greater efficiency and flexibility.

The unpredictability of the environment in which we operate can be difficult - for example local challenges in terms of network implementations, skills shortages, security concerns in certain areas, or even the ability to reach installation point - and yet overcoming these trials provides me with encouragement and energy for the future.

It is extremely rewarding to see the strength of the team we have built in Africa emerging. Without this group of passionate people, our success would not be possible.