Clement Martineau logs onto our Zoom call with his camera turned off. A few minutes later, his face appears in front of a computer generated backdrop splashed with the IXAfrica logo. The sounds of distant cars and birdsong, as well as his baggy grey hoodie, however, make it pretty clear that he’s spending the afternoon in his garden, enjoying the cool Kenyan winter air that makes running a data centre in this part of the world (please pardon the pun) a breeze.
“I'm actually in the process of applying for permanent residency,” says Martineau. “I've seen this country change over the past decade and it's all headed in one direction as the population continues to grow.” That exponential growth in the region’s population and economy is one of the driving forces behind a tidal surge in digital infrastructure demand throughout Kenya, but especially in the capital city of Nairobi.
Martineau arrived in Nairobi back in 2012 to work as a project manager for Telkom Kenya - then a subsidiary of Orange. “I was working for Telkom Kenya mostly to take care of the company's real estate portfolio, as well as all their construction projects,” he recalls, “I met Guy when he came to Kenya in 2013 to look at a data centre project as part of the Teraco team from South Africa.” The project - thanks to Orange’s group-wide sell-off of its data centre assets - never panned out, but Martineau and Willner “had a good connection,” deciding later to launch their own data centre project in Nairobi.
The venture, which centres on IXAfrica’s first hyperscale campus in Nairobi, is almost ready to come online. Martineau, one of the few Directors at the company in Kenya due to the COVID-19 pandemic, explains that he finds himself wearing a lot of hats these days. “I'm working as the Operations Director, supervising the build, all the civil works, and the fit-out of the new campus. I'm also managing the team onsite. Particularly during the pandemic, no one has been able to travel, so I've been the point of reference here in the country for Guy and the other directors,” he explains. “For the rest of this year we'll be focusing on finishing the build here in Nairobi in order to start operating towards the end of the year or the start of 2022.”
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