Airtel has launched its Nxtra data center business in Africa, and has tapped a former AWS data center lead to head the company.

Plans for Nxtra Data Centers to expand into Africa were first shared in June 2023, with Airtel Africa announcing that it was looking to develop five hyperscale data centers on the continent, the first of which will be in Lagos, Nigeria.

Nxtra is jointly owned by Indian telco Airtel and Carlyle, with the latter taking a 24 percent stake in 2022.

Aerial view of Lagos, Nigeria
– Thinkstock

The planned Nxtra data center network will be housed in "major" cities across Airtel Africa's footprint and will complement its existing Edge sites.

The first site will be a 34MW data center in Lagos, Nigeria. IT will be designed to host high-density racks and to operate with a PUE of 1.3. The data center is currently set to go live in mid-2025.

“A rapid increase in data center capacity is needed to support the growth potential of Africa’s digital economy. We’re proud to drive the future of Africa’s digital infrastructure, unlocking opportunities for businesses to grow and fueling economic prosperity,” said Airtel Africa’s group CEO, Segun Ogunsanya.

“Airtel Africa’s team has consistently shown our ability to deliver on infrastructure projects across Africa, and we are confident that our next-generation data centers will support our ambition to become the partner of choice for global customers and Africa’s newest tech unicorns alike.”

The company has appointed AWS' former head of global data center portfolio management, Yashnath Issur, as CEO of Nxtra in Africa. Issur previously worked at Millicom as global data center manager for five years.

Last year, Airtel launched a data center in Lekki, Lagos. Few details about the site were shared, but it is likely one of the 40 Edge data centers the telco operates in Africa.

Airtel has invested in two of the African-connected subsea cables: 2Africa, and Equiano.

Nxtra is a major data center operator in India, currently operating 12 facilities in the country and 120 Edge data centers or Points of Presence.