Is Airtel’s Nxtra business on its way to Africa?

Is Airtel’s Nxtra business on its way to Africa?

Airtel Business, the enterprise arm of India’s Airtel, has a massive data centre concern, called Nxtra, in India. So far this isn’t the case in Africa, where the Airtel Group does have a massive presence, but mainly in the mobile market; it is one of the largest service providers in Africa. Apparently, that may soon change.

The company can already boast 40 edge data centres in Africa, for its own use, and investments in the 2Africa and Equiano submarine cables.

However, as both cables hit land the company says it is working on taking its data centre arm Nxtra to Africa and setting up five hyperscale data centres there, according to a report by the Light Reading news service.

This will presumably happen via Airtel Global Business, the international arm of Airtel Business, which caters to its global customers, including service providers, over-the-top (OTT) players and multinationals, among others. It’s not yet clear which countries are being targeted.

Right now, Nxtra, a joint venture between Airtel and Global investment firm Carlyle Group, is present only in India, where it has 12 large data centres and 120 edge data centres. Carlyle completed the acquisition of a 24% stake in Nxtra for US$325 million last year.

As Light Reading points out, increasing broadband usage and growing numbers of subscribers in Africa are leading to a boom in Africa’s data centre industry. Several major players, including Google, Amazon, Oracle and Microsoft have invested in building data centres in Africa.

Limiting latency and data localisation trends may also be drivers for Airtel’s suggested move, plus the fact that Africa is a data centre opportunity that is still (relatively) underexploited so far.


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