By Garba Shehu

With a clear vision of the importance of Data Centres to Nigeria’s digital ecosystem, President Muhammadu Buhari recently commissioned the Kano Data Centre, put in place by the ever-achieving Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, constructed by Huawei, a leading information and communications technology infrastructure provider.

It is an enormously significant project which has got little or no public attention.

Experts say that it will save Nigeria billons of Naira a year due to power outages and other disturbances. Data centres eliminate a portion of this loss.

A data centre is a space or building used to “house networked computer systems or servers and associated systems such as telecom systems and networking components (switches, routers). They are used to organize, process and store large amounts of data.

A centre like the one just commissioned provides reliable data storage on a massive scale without the glitches of portable technology.

The Kano centre has (2.2petabyte storage capacity). A petabyte is a unit of information equal to one thousand million bytes. This one, alongside the Abuja Data Centre with 1.7 petabyte storage capacity will jointly provide a national digital sovereign cloud. These two will greatly improve the modernization of the communications infrastructure in Nigeria, create a favourable external investment environment, enhance the communication efficiency between the government and the public, and improve the satisfaction of government services (improve e-governance).

Most importantly, Kano will Provide full backup services for the primary Data centre facility in Abuja.

The Kano Prefab DC solution includes Huawei’s intelligent power supply and distribution technology such as iPower, the iCooling and intelligent thermal management solution that improves power usage effectiveness (PUE) with a centralized smart management system (iManager). These innovations help to build a datacentre solution that is simple, green, intelligent, and secure.

It will provide full-fledged availability zone which allows for independent operation and regional cloud computing service delivery. Its containerized design provides for high scalability.

The infrastructure has a capacity to provide at least 120 direct jobs and huge number of indirect jobs.

The Kano Data Centre Project is a major component of the phase 2 of the National Information and Communications Infrastructure Backbone (NICTIB) Project. It is strategically located in the capital city of Kano State, North West, Nigeria and a model of the envisioned full-fledged National Data Centre concepts that support the Data Sovereignty aspirations of the Nigerian Government.

In 2019 and 2020, the Nigerian government promulgated the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy 2020-2030 and the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 to accelerate digital transformation and digital economy development. The National ICT Infrastructure Backbone Phase II Project is one of the most important projects for implementing Nigeria’s national ICT strategy, especially on Broadband penetration.

Following the activation of the NICTIB phase 2 project in November of 2020, the final detailed design of the facility was embarked on and received the approval of stakeholders.

The Government of Kano State, in appreciation of the strategic impact of such proposed state-of-the-art facility, allocated a befitting plot of land for its development within the Nasarawa GRA.

Manufacturing activities and mobilisation to site commenced in May 2021.

The facility is composed of a 600sqm Tier 4 datacentre with capacity of 72 rack cabinets (66 IT racks and 6 network racks) and fully equipped cloud infrastructure of 2.2PB storage capacity, 6,144vCPUs and 9TB memory; a regional office building of 3 floors, with private and open office spaces, Network Operations Center, Training facilities, meeting rooms and colocation room with a total of 900sqm of space; and Comprehensive power systems of 33KVA utility source, dedicated transformers (1250 kVA capacity) and backup generators (600 kW capacity).

The cost of this project is put at USD 21,402,336.09 as captured on a commercial BoQ (including Abuja DC IT equipment of $11,562,590.83) that was recommended by BPP (2016) and approved by the Federal Executive Council, FEC (2017).

The final approval and implementation started in 2021 with zero variation. Specifically, the Kano Datacentre infrastructure and IT equipment cost a total of $9,839,745.26. The Initial design of the Project (Data Centre & Office Building) was for 24months. However, it was technically completed in nine months, commencing in May 2021 to March 2022.

Under the Buhari administration, the Information, Communication and Technology sector (ICT) has accelerated the diversification of the economy and contributed an unprecedented 18.44 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Minister Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami calls it the “New Oil” because the contribution of the sector to the GDP has risen above oil.

The continuous growth of the digital economy depends on large-capacity and highly reliable ICT infrastructure. Data is the core asset of the new era. Only a large-capacity and highly reliable infrastructure can ensure data security in Nigeria and store key government data and people’s livelihood data.

On this path, the Ministry of Communications and the Digital Economy has been working tirelessly. The establishment of the Galaxy Backbone Kano data centre will be a key milestone in this path.

It will greatly accelerate Nigeria’s digital transformation, provide powerful technical facilities for the booming digital economy, create a favourable external investment environment, improve the efficiency of communication between the government and the public, and improve the adoption of government services.

The project was coordinated by Galaxy Backbone Limited, and constructed by Huawei Technologies Company Nigeria Limited, a leading ICT company that has been In Nigeria and a strong partner to the nation’s ICT sector. The project makes Kano the largest date storage hub in the country and it is expected that it will pave the way for greater ICT contributions to Nigeria digital and overall economy.

*** Garba Shehu is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity

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