Equinix, a California-based provider of internet and data center services, has announced plans to buy MainOne, the first private company to land a submarine cable company in west Africa, for $320 million.
Based in Nigeria, MainOne started laying its 7,000km fibre optic cable network that stretches from Portugal to Nigeria in 2008, launching it two years later. In the decade since, the company has grown from a startup providing internet to Nigerian businesses, homes, internet service providers, and large telecom operators like MTN and Airtel, to a pan-African company covering 10 countries.
Key MainOne assets that will now belong to Equinix as a result of the deal include three operational data centers and one under construction expected to open in the first quarter of 2022. One other asset is Funke Opeke, MainOne’s founder and CEO, who will continue in her role.
Opeke returned to Nigeria in 2005 after a twenty-year telecoms career that saw her become an executive at Verizon. But at the time of her return, the internet was nascent and expensive in Nigeria with huge infrastructure costs for service providers.
After a plan to privatize Nigeria’s now defunct state telephone company (NITEL) fell through, Opeke turned her attention to the difficult challenge of landing west Africa’s first private submarine cable.
As she tells it, there was initial skepticism even from one of those who would later become a MainOne’s founding shareholders. But the company sparked to life after raising $240 million from a number of Nigerian banks, the Africa Finance Corporation, and the Africa Development Bank (AfDB.)
Funke Opeke took the risk to build the infrastructure upon which the rest of the ecosystem sits.
MainOne has since been the internet service provider for 800 business-to-business companies, and has especially partnered with organisations like Co-creation Hub that have been integral to Nigeria’s thriving tech scene. At Decagon, a Lagos-based software engineering training institute, MainOne provides the internet service that ensures students have constant up-time.Follow us on social media