National Tier IV Data Centre: Boosting Nigeria’s digitalization process

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At the launch of the National Tier IV Data Centre located in Kano on January 30, 2023, by President Muhammadu Buhari, it would have been most fit and proper to play “Save the Best for Last”, a song by American singer and actress Vanessa Williams, released in January 1992 as the third single from her second studio album. 

Co-written by Philip E. Galdston/Wendy Waldman-parker/Jon Lind, the title of the song derives from the idiomatic expression of keeping something appealing in reserve until the end or the final moment.

Isn’t that what is happening with the plethora of infrastructural projects being commissioned just a few months to the end of the Buhari administration that can put the sail out of some of the criticisms directed at it?  

Those who are willing to credit the Buhari administration with significant achievements can’t help but recall the following lines from the song: Just when I thought our chance had passed

You go and save the best for last

On the famous Ahmadu Bello Way, Nassarawa GRA, which is less than 2km to the Kano State Government House, the state’s seat of power, now stands a magnificent edifice whose launch attracted ministers of Power (Mr. Abubakar Aliyu) and that of Finance, Budget and Planning (Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed) and several other top federal and Kano dtate government functionaries and diplomats.

Also in attendance was the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Cui Jian Chun. So was the MD/CEO, Huawei Nigeria. In his remarks, the Chinese ambassador applauded the collaboration of Nigeria and the Chinese government (through Huawei) in the area of Information technology development, disclosed a sustained working relationship with the government to build a global data system. He said 5,000 youths would be trained in ICT knowledge through the Chinese owned ICT firm, Huawei, to strengthen Nigeria’s cyberspace and data intelligence.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), was the chief host. He and the MD/CEO of Galaxy Backbone Limited (GBB), Professor Muhammadu Bello Abubakar, were visibly elated to conduct the President and other dignitaries round the National Tier IV Data Centre.

Remarkably, the launch closely followed the commissioning by Mr President, on December, 20, 2022, of the National Shared Services Centre (NSSC), which was aptly christened Muhammadu Buhari National Shared Services Centre. The centre, which houses the TIER 3 Data storage facility, is expected to serve as a strategic and significantly important resource to stakeholder organizations in both the public and the private sector. 

The TIER 4 Data storage facility is a major component of the phase 2 of the National Information Communications and  Infrastructure Backbone (NICTIB) Project. It is strategically located in the city of Kano as a model of the envisioned full-fledged national Data Center concepts that support the Data Sovereignty aspirations of the Nigerian government. 

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, actively supported the project by duly allocating a befitting plot of land for its development. 

If the strides that Nigeria has recorded during the Buhari administration are due, in part, to the appointment of the right man at the helm of affairs of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, one of the master strokes was his assemblage of the right caliber of professionals to develop and implement the nation’s digital economy.

Prominent among them has been the hardworking and resourceful Managing Director/CEO of Galaxy Backbone Limited.

One remarkable fact about the data centre project is the speed with which it was conceived and implemented – everything from detailed design to completion was nine months — June 2021 to March 2022.

Speaking to the media on the event, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, said the impetus for the multi-million-naira project was provided by the President who directed his ministry, in his words, “to complete the project as part of the National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone (NICTIB 2).”

He explained the significance of the project: “There is no data centre above this in the whole world because tier four data centre is the best all over the world. That is why the reliability is 99.999% which is almost 100%. So, by implication, this is the best anywhere in the world.” He explained the significance of the project in terms of the fact that “You cannot build a knowledge-based economy without where to keep your data. The security, reliability, functionality and many more are key to the success of the data centre. Secondly, it will go a long way in supporting Nigeria to continue to consolidate its own digital economy because data centre is key to the digital economy. 

Thirdly, it will also support our country to continue to diversify our economy. Number four, it will increase revenue for government. Number five, there are also many opportunities for job creation, both in private and public sectors. So, these are some of the benefits to be attained. And finally, it will improve our cybersecurity and cyber space.”

The CEO of Galaxy Bakcbone threw additional light on the project: “If you look at the trend, the trajectory is always moving forward, and that is what this data centre is also going to do. In some few years to come, you will see that we are going to have much more unprecedented achievements. Now, the producers of services and products will get a much easier link-up with the consumers and ultimately, the businesses will continue to flourish in multiple forms.” 

“Following the activation of the NICTIB Phase-2 project by November of 2020, the final detailed design of the facility was embarked on and received the approval of stakeholders for the project that covers north of Nigeria and some southern parts of the country.”

Its facilities comprise a 600 sqm tier 4 data center with capacity of 46 rack cabinets and fully equipped data centre infrastructure including cloud of 2.2PB storage capacity, 6,144vCPUs and 9TB memory; a regional office building of three floors, with private and open office spaces; a Network Operations Center; training facilities; meeting rooms; and a colocation room occupying 900 sqm of space.

The centre has power systems comprising a 33KVA utility source, dedicated transformers and two backup generators.

The benefits of the centre are immense. In addition to providing full backup services for the primary Data Center facility in Abuja, it ensures full-fledged service availability that allows for independent operation and national cloud computing service delivery. 

It is providing full backup services for the primary Data Center facility in Abuja that allows for independent operation and regional cloud computing service delivery. Its containerized design provides for high scalability. 

This facility is available to both government and its agencies and private sector organizations looking to leverage the reliable infrastructure in providing services to their own clients. 

The GBB CEO said the Kano Data Centre will offer an enabling environment for ease of doing business to boost Nigeria’s GDP. He puts the data centre projects in perspective: “The Information technology space is huge. The interesting thing about this industry locally and globally is its fast pace of evolution and transformation. As customer requirements expand, the potential and possibilities of this industry that now powers all industries expand, too. As an organization that is fully aware of the reality that it cannot be everything or all things to its numerous customers and stakeholders, Galaxy Backbone has chosen to focus on one area that can help create the platform for other local ICT companies, Original Equipment Manufacturers and organizations from the private and public sector dealing with a lot of data.”

Indeed, Mr. President has saved the best for the last in the very critical communications and digital economy sector!

Ibrahim writes from Abuja.

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