Global agency picks Kenya to host Africa mega data centre

Kenya is set to host one of Africa’s two mega data hubs that will significantly raise internet speed and make it increasingly difficult for cyber criminals to compromise websites and digital platforms.

The data centres will boast multiple servers with a high bandwidth, enabling them to cope with a huge increase in traffic. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), that is setting up the centres said on Monday it would set up two Root Server (IMRS) clusters, one of which will be based in Kenya.

The announcement by ICANN, a non-profit corporation charged with coordinating global domain name systems, comes as a major boost to Africa and Kenya in particular as it seeks to raise its profile as the region’s digital innovation hub. The centre will also immensely help the country ward off cybercriminals as it is one of the key targets of attacks on the continent, which is generally a soft target for hackers who perceive the region’s cyber-security as vulnerable.   

Kenya’s ICT Cabinet Secretary Joseph Mucheru said the facility is in sync with the African Digital Transformation Strategy (2020-2030), adding that the development is also in tandem with Kenya’s Digital Economy Blueprint, which identifies infrastructure as one of the five key pillars crucial for the shift to the digital economy.

“We… thank ICANN for their confidence in choosing Kenya one more time as one of the hosts of this important infrastructure that would serve not only Kenya, but the rest of Africa and the world,” he said. “Implementation of this initiative will be of immense importance in accelerating the digital transformation agenda in Kenya.”

ICANN noted that “The clusters ensure that internet queries from Africa can be answered within the region, and not dependent on networks and servers in other parts of the world, thus reducing latency and improving Internet user experience in the entire region.”   ICANN is responsible for provision of internet’s unique identifier systems globally.

The data centres will cut the time it takes for a website to load, even when there is heavy internet traffic.  Also, the risk of the internet being hit by hackers will be significantly reduced since increased capacity blunts the sharpness of attacks. The increased capacity is thanks to a higher bandwidth, while the presence of separate IMRS cluster locations will contribute to enhanced security.

Currently there are four other such ICANN data centres globally, two in North America and one each in Europe and Asia.
“ICANN announced that it will install and manage two new ICANN Managed Root Server (IMRS) clusters in Africa, one of which is confirmed to be in Kenya. This is ICANN’s first-of-its-kind investment in Africa,” the organisation said in a statement to newsrooms, noting that expanding infrastructure in Africa is part of its objective to ensure internet remains “secure, stable and resilient across the world”.

The firm operates by translating Internet queries into the number codes used to give unique addresses for web pages.
When you type a something it identifies the search and links it to an IP address.
This is done through the Domain Name System (DNS) root server that is responsible for fundamental functions when it comes to translating domain names into IP addresses. This means it helps identify a website’s IP address when someone types a domain name into their computer.

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