Funke Opeke is a Nigerian electrical engineer, founder of Main Street Technologies and Chief Executive Officer of Main One Cable Company. MainOne is West Africa’s leading communications services and network solutions provider that built West Africa’s first privately owned, open access 7,000-kilometer undersea high-capacity cable submarine, a $240-million-dollar project that was completed in time and on budget in 2010. MainOne also built West Africa’s largest Tier III Data Center, MDX-i’s Lekki Data Center, a $40 million investment with a capacity for 600 racks.

FUNKE OPEKE - CEO, Founder, MainOne - African Leaders Magazine

Ms. Opeke is an experienced telecommunications executive who returned to Nigeria in 2005 as the Chief Technical Officer of MTN after a twenty-year career in the United States. After moving back to Nigeria, Funke Opeke started MainOne in 2008, when she noticed the poor internet connectivity in Nigeria. Her desire to add value to her home country birthed Africa’s biggest cable company. After pledging all her savings, facing more challenges of raising capital for the start-up cable business, carrying out in-depth foundational works, feasibility studies, business plans, and technical plans, Main One Cable Company become more tangible. In 2015, her company started operations of MDXi reputed to be Nigeria’s largest Tier III Data Center, also extending a submarine cable from Lagos into Cameroon. Her achievements are a source of inspiration to many. Funke is the inventor of Mainstreet Technologies, the developer of MainOne cable, a leading provider of network solutions in West Africa. Prior to her return, she was the Executive Director of Verizon Communications Wholesale Division. Subsequent to MTN, Ms. Opeke advised Transcorp on the acquisition of NITEL and briefly served as the interim Chief Operating Officer, post-acquisition of NITEL.

Funke Opeke attended Queens School (girls only) in Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria. She grew up in Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State, although, she is a native of Ile- Oluji, Ondo state. Born into a family of 9, her father was the first Nigerian director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeriawhile her mother was a teacher. She obtained a first degree in Electrical Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife Nigeria and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University, New York.

Last month US-based Equinix acquired the Funke’s MainOne for $320 million and in an interview with she had this to say about the great move;

What has driven up the interest in Africa’s cloud and data center business over the last three years?

Over the past decade, I would say approximately 40% of the population of West Africa has gained access to mobile broadband; that is a population of over 100 million eyeballs. And 60% of people across the region are still yet to be fully connected. Now, when you look at the data consumption of the average subscriber in Africa, relative to the rest of the world, it is a small fraction even though the population in terms of usage is much higher. But we see continued growth in internet access and 4G deployment. Data consumption and access to services will also grow. When you add all those things together it shows a rapidly growing market.

That’s where data centers and interconnectedness come in and is really motivating the new investments in this large growing population of underserved users. I think it is really only just beginning for our continent.

FUNKE OPEKE - CEO, Founder, MainOne - African Leaders Magazine

How do you think about rising competition from global platforms and cloud companies?

The situation is the same globally in terms of the role of these global technology companies and the adoption of their applications by consumers globally. So, I don’t think Africa is unique in that respect. So I think this is a good development that the infrastructure investment is actually going to take place on the continent. And it starts addressing having more of the value chain. So we’re not just a consumer of those services, but we have to provide more of the value in terms of hosting, delivering, and connecting the data to the various networks here from within Africa.

 Given the ongoing boom in data centers, why sell MainOne now?

I think it’s a fabulous opportunity for the shareholders. They have stayed with me for 12 to 13 years and we’ve had their support. But I think the timing was right in terms of what we’re seeing on the continent and global interest in these kinds of assets. And Equinix reached out to us, did their due diligence and we fit the bill to become part of their global platform, where they currently do not have a presence in Africa.

FUNKE OPEKE - CEO, Founder, MainOne - African Leaders Magazine

How do you intend the new resources at your disposal after the acquisition closes?

Building more data centers, servicing more of their requirements, providing new solutions for African businesses and financial institutions, so they can do business on a global platform equivalent to what we would have in any advanced market, right from West Africa. I think that is probably what I’m most excited about. We expect data consumption per head to grow as the networks scale.



Source: / Wikipedia /