MainOne, a West African data centre and connectivity solutions provider with a presence in Nigeria, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire is set to be acquired for $320 million by American multinational Equinix Inc., the US company said in a statement Tuesday.

The all-cash transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of next year, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions including the requisite regulatory approvals.

Founded by Funke Opeke in 2010, MainOne is a key provider of enterprise connectivity solutions, with an estimated 800+ business-to-business customers. These include major international technology enterprises, social media companies, global telecom operators, financial service companies, and cloud service providers.

The company owns and operates an extensive submarine network extending 7,000 kilometers from Portugal to Lagos, Accra, and along the West African coast, with landing stations in Nigeria, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire. These provide connectivity to and from Europe, West African countries, and the major business communities in Nigeria. 

MainOne also owns digital infrastructure assets that include three operational data centers, with an additional facility under construction expected to open in Q1 2022. These are in addition to key internet exchanges enabling low latency to key global networks, including Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Facebook. 

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Under the terms of the agreement, the management team, including CEO Opeke, will continue to serve in their respective roles. 

“The MainOne team is excited about the partnership created through the acquisition,” Opeke said in the statement. “With similar values and culture to what we have built in 12 years, Equinix is the preferred partner for our growth journey and will accelerate our long-term vision to grow digital infrastructure investments across Africa.”

For Equinix, a global specialist in data centres and internet connectivity, the deal marks the first step in a long-term strategy to become a leading provider of digital infrastructure in Africa. 

Equinix believes MainOne to be one of the most exciting technology businesses to emerge from Africa, making the acquisition a pivotal entry point for the US company into the continent.

“Expansion in Africa has long been a strategic priority for us. With MainOne, we have found a company that not only has highly complementary data center and connectivity assets but can further accelerate the expansion of our business model and growth objectives,” said Eugene Bergen, EMEA President at Equinix.

Equinix’s data centres around the world.

Given the huge supply gap in digital infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa, Ayobami Omole, a Lagos-based telecom analyst at Tellimer, expects more of such transactions in the coming years. “Deals like the MainOne acquisition will keep drawing foreign investors’ attention to the region,” Omole told TechCabal over the phone.

The UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates SSA is home to approximately 700 million of the world’s 3.7 billion people without access to the internet. More so, available infrastructure in the region is barely enough for the current internet users.

“With increasing internet traffic, smartphone penetration, and digitisation, we can only expect demand for cloud services and digital infrastructure to increase with foreign players looking to plug that gap,” Omole added.

Globally, Platform Equinix is comprised of 237 data centres across 65 metros and 27 countries, providing data centre and interconnection services for over 10,000 businesses, including more than 50% of Fortune 500 companies. When completed, the acquisition will extend Platform Equinix into West Africa.

“MainOne’s leading interconnection position and experienced management team represent critical assets in our aspirations to be the leading neutral provider of digital infrastructure in Africa,” added Charles Meyers, President and CEO of Equinix.

MainOne’s founding shareholders include Nigerian businessman and founder of Guaranty Trust Bank, Fola Adeola, MainStreet Technologies, the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF), First Bank, Polaris Bank, and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

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Michael Ajifowoke West Africa Reporter, TechCabal

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