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South Africa already has the largest data center market in Africa – and it's expected to grow dramatically in the next few years, according to a January 2024 market forecast by S&P Global Market Intelligence. 

This growth is driven largely by the launch of local cloud zones by some of the globe’s biggest hyperscalers, a rising need for cloud services, and advances in AI-enabled technologies. With reliable connectivity and global trade relations, the country is set to become a data center hub for the entire continent.

Johannesburg 1 Data Center at full strength

On average, 83% of the South African data center market is in use, according to S&P, and it should remain near this level for the next two years amid robust demand from hyperscalers and cloud-service resellers, among others.

Demand is especially strong for facilities in or near Johannesburg and Cape Town, and NTT DATA’s Johannesburg 1 Data Center is well placed to capitalize on this demand.

We launched this state-of-the-art 6,000m2 data center at the end of 2022, with phase one delivering 6MW of power capacity. This year, phase two will be completed, raising the total to 12MW.

Johannesburg 1 is a Tier 3 facility that houses colocation clients’ IT and network systems in a secure, high-availability environment.

In South Africa, there is a healthy mix of colocation and wholesale supply (for example, to hyperscalers) of nearly 200MW in data center power capacity, according to S&P, with an estimated compound annual growth rate of 27% between 2022 and 2027.

The Johannesburg 1 Data Center

The Johannesburg 1 Data Center is capitalizing on rising demand

Why colocation makes sense

As organizations embark on their digital transformation strategies and they migrate their data and applications to the cloud, they may want to retain control over their data center. However, for many, building and maintaining a data center is complex and expensive – if not downright impossible.

Colocation presents a solution. A colocation data center provider like NTT DATA offers space, a redundant power supply, cooling, network connectivity and physical security, and the clients bring in their own IT equipment such as servers, storage and network components.

So, clients retain control of their data while benefiting from the scalability, continuity and redundancy offered by a large data center – including “remote hands” services, where the colocation provider’s technicians carry out tasks such as replacing equipment and reviewing status updates on their behalf.

Other benefits of colocation include security and compliance (especially important for organizations in industries with stringent data protection requirements, such as financial services); improved application and service performance by using data centers in strategic locations; business continuity in case of disaster or other operational interruptions; and access to innovation via the colocation provider.

Our data centers are built for sustainability

The sustainability credentials of data centers like Johannesburg 1 are also in the spotlight. Ongoing digitalization and developments in AI are creating huge demands for processing power, which has implications for sustainability. At NTT DATA, our goal is to achieve net-zero emissions across our operations by 2030, and across our value chain by 2040.

A large data center that offers colocation is more sustainable than smaller standalone systems. This is because it offers economies of scale and efficiencies in cooling, energy usage and other factors that contribute to a colocation client’s carbon footprint.

We use different cooling methods around the globe that are adapted to local conditions and requirements to guarantee sustainable water usage. For example, we have implemented groundwater cooling at our Munich 2 Data Center

But in South Africa, which is a hot and water-scarce country, this is not a practical option. Our Johannesburg 1 Data Center therefore relies on an air-cooled free-cooling chiller system: instead of being evaporated, the water that runs through the chiller systems stays in a closed loop.

This means the data center has a water usage effectiveness (WUE) ratio of close to zero. A WUE is the ratio between the water usage of a data center site, in liters, and the energy consumption of the IT equipment in kilowatt-hours. A low WUE ratio means the data center is using water resources efficiently. 

On-premises, colocation or cloud? Choosing the right data center model.

Whether you’re in Johannesburg or Tokyo, you need a data center model that suits your organization’s goals. Each model has its own advantages and considerations. For example, on-premises data centers require significant upfront investment compared with colocation and cloud.

To determine which is best for your needs, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What are my business requirements? Consider factors such as data storage and processing needs, security and compliance, and budgetary constraints.
  2. How much will I need to scale? Assess your organization’s growth plans and check whether your chosen data center model can accommodate your needs now and in the future.
  3. What level of security and compliance do I need? Evaluate the security measures and industry-specific compliance certifications offered by the data center model, or models, you’re considering.
  4. What would my return on investment be? Is a big capital outlay on an on-premises data center worth it in the long run? Or would you rather opt for colocation so you don’t restrict your cash flow? Look at non-financial returns, too: what does each model provide in terms of security, convenience, skills and so on?
  5. What’s my redundancy and disaster-recovery plan? Assess the level of redundancy you need to ensure high availability and minimize the risk of downtime, and evaluate whether the data center will protect your data in the event of a disruption.

Experienced technology partners like NTT DATA can help you to select the best data center model for your organization. We understand the ins and outs of operating data centers across the globe, and we’re up to data with the latest industry trends and best practices. Together, we can evaluate your needs and match you to a data center model that will meet your needs today and accommodate your growth in the future.

Book a tour of our Johannesburg 1 Data Center with a data center specialist who can answer all your questions along the way, email us at or fill out our contact form.