Five years ago, a few of Africa’s ISPs, network providers and content carriers met for the first time in Nairobi, Kenya. The discussions held mainly focused on infrastructure and lowering the cost of connection, today, the discussions are how to interconnect and negotiate agreements between countries.
The Africa Peering Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) has grown exponentially in the last five years from an initial two-day event to three days, attracting more than 200 participants and 16 international, regional and local sponsors.
“The original objective of AfPIF was to bring together the main beneficiaries and members of IXPs in order to provide them with a platform where they can learn and understand the benefits of peering. This objective was driven by the fact that most of the African IXPs were experiencing problems in growing critical mass of members at their respective IXPs,” said Michuki Mwangi, Michuki Mwangi, senior development manager at the Internet Society.
The first meeting was calculated to be a forum for providing the awareness and training to enable the network operators, content providers and infrastructure providers to explore the full benefits from their local IXPs. As a result the IXPs would see the existing opportunities to grow their membership and both local and regional interconnection would take place.
Today, the number of IXPs in the continent has increased, at the same time the content exchanged has also grown and providers now understand the benefits of exchanging content locally. As part of the annual AfPIF meeting, participants have asked for dedicated bilateral peering meeting sessions.
“The request for the peering bilateral sessions by the community was a pleasant surprise; it indicates a faster than anticipated growth of the community to levels observed at other more mature peering regions such as Europe, Asia and North America,” added Mwangi.
“Reports show that Internet access through various broadband technologies is advancing at a higher rate compared to the rest of the world. Therefore with over 15 percent of the population in Africa with access to the Internet, then it is indeed time for Internet business Africa,” said Mwangi.
Mwangi says that the 15 percent Internet penetration rate provides a valid business case for a win-win situation for both local and global content providers and network operators alike. There is an opportunity to lower the cost of access through more in region peering with content providers, which will drive the demand for more investment in broadband access beyond the urban centres.
This can be validated with the observations made in the last two years. The AfPIF event has recorded a growing interest in both participation and sponsorship from large global content carriers and networks such as Akamai, Google, Hurricane Electric, Microsoft, Cloudflare amongst others proving that the region is becoming more attractive to global operators. The event continues to receive invaluable support from European IXPs such as AMSIX, DE-CIX, France-IX, LINX and Netnod. Event more encouraging is to see the growing involvement and support from African operators such as Liquid Telecom, Internet Solutions, MainOne, Seacom amongst others.
In all, it has been an enlightening 4 events full of learning, business, networking opportunities. The Interactive sessions such as the peering game, peering introductions, peering socials and dinners have made the AfPIF a must attend event. Indeed we are all eager to see what the fifth event will have in store for us. Come join us in Dakar, Senegal from the 26 – 28 August and celebrate 5 years of AfPIF the peering way.