Advances in technology have meant that the world has become a global village, say a Turkana can communicate with someone in New York in real time thanks to the internet.
As a country, we have benefited greatly since the first fiber-optic cable was laid on our shores in 2009. For a country that previously used satellite internet to communicate, fiber youth, SMEs, private sector, government and institutions. This is because technologists can now build apps, some have built companies out of apps, and this has led to a remarkable mobile technology revolution in Kenya.
At that time, new start-ups and enterprises emerged and Kenya became a prime candidate for the title of Africa’s Silicon Savannah. Fiber internet has also given rise to tech hubs sprouting up in the city, and it is these hubs that have propelled the country to become a leader in technology on the African continent.
Since 2009, when the first cable landed on our shores, at least 5 other cables have entered the country, bringing the total number to six. The latest cable is the PEACE cable, which landed earlier this year and is a collaboration between Telkom and PEACE Cable. This cable is expected to bring faster and more stable communication services connecting Africa, Europe and Asia.
With the introduction of various fiber cables into the country, this has resulted in lowering the cost of internet for consumers. According to the Communications Authority, this has had the effect of increasing the number of Kenyans online, with reports showing smartphone penetration at 27.9 million.
As the number of Kenyans in the online space increased, data centers were needed to meet this demand. A data center is essentially a building, a specific location within a building, or a group of buildings used to house computer systems and related components such as telecommunications and storage systems.
One of the companies offering data center services is icolo.io, which has three data centers in the country so far. icolo.io launched in the country in 2017 with its first data center located in Mirintini, Mombasa County. Increased demand for their services led them to open a second date shop in Nairobi. Earlier this year, they opened their latest data center in the suburbs of Nyali, Mombasa.
icolo.io essentially offers infrastructure that allows submarine fiber cable operators to easily offload their capabilities to local ISPs, essentially acting as an intermediary. Also, the data center is operator neutral to ensure that its customers have as much choice as possible, that is, when the customer decides to use their facility. They can provide a choice when it comes to which submarine fiber cable to use, ensuring that the customer can get a provider that suits their needs.
icolo’s new facility in Nyali is connected to four undersea fiber cables, meaning users of the facility have more options to choose from than when the data center is owned by a single carrier. This means that the customer can get better services and prices, which can then be passed on to their customers.
When running an online business, any downtime is a business disaster, so the new Nyali data center promises its customers 99.99% uptime. For this, they have invested heavily in the power supply to ensure that there are no interruptions. As such, they have a dedicated 11KV power line from Kenya Power and two backup generators as well as a state-of-the-art UPS system.
The equipment is very expensive and any damage to it can be a big setback for the company. Servers generally emit a lot of heat that can be harmful if not cooled sufficiently. To ensure that this does not happen, icolo.io has invested heavily in a cooling system that operates at an optimal temperature of 15-22 degrees for servers. An intelligent fire extinguishing system using inert gas ensures that all your equipment is centrally safe.
According to management, they foresee the Nyali facility becoming a major player in the Kenyan data center scene. The facility was probably built in response to future demand projections, and they expect the building to house more than 50 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the future. This is expected to go a long way in reducing the cost of internet in the country, as the costs incurred by ISPs will come down and they will be able to offer better services at a lower cost.