AfPIF 2011

Regional Interconnection: Outlining the business case

8-9 August 2011 in Accra, Ghana
Hosted by National Information Technolgy Agency (NITA)


Gradual ongoing policy and regulatory changes have positively impacted a region that is heavily dependent on satellite connectivity for its main regional and global means of communications. Today there are major investments that have been made on submarine, terrestrial fiber infrastructures, mobile and wireless data technologies. These developments appear to be addressing some of the challenges that have contributed to the slow Internet growth in the region.

As a result, the changing environment has led to increased competition amongst the different operators in the region. Further, the establishment of critical infrastructures such as national Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) has provided additional cost savings to the operators, by diverting the local traffic away from the more expensive international links to a local connection.

The Issue

However, despite the growing regional infrastructure, most of the cross-border Internet traffic exchange is done in Europe and North America. This is a clear indication that the satellite routing policies are still predominant in a submarine and terrestrial fiber setting.

A visible example is a trace of the path followed by an Internet packet from Nairobi, Kenya to Kigali, Rwanda. The packet from Nairobi will go to Europe then back to Kigali. The anomaly is that Rwanda is a landlocked country, and has its international fiber connectivity terrestrially connected through the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa.

The scenario is replicated across the entire region and serves a barrier to growth, innovation and operational efficiency. Of most concern is, cross-border and regional communications are entirely dependent on global connectivity.

The Opportunity

The Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum is a two-day forum that aims to address the key Interconnection opportunities and challenges that exist in the region. As a multi-stakeholder forum, the event seeks to foster the national and cross-border interconnection opportunities by ensuring the key players such as; infrastructure providers, service providers, IXPs and regulators are present at the event.