AFPIF 2023 Plenary Day 2 Summary

Peering Strategy, WomenTech Connect, and Africa’s Digital Economies and Digital Divide

Over the last 12 years, the evolution of IXPs and peering has experienced exponential growth. According to data from Euro-IX, presented on Day 2 of AfPIF 2023, IXP growth was driven by caches, private network interconnections (PNIs), and the need to keep local traffic local. The first content delivery networks (CDNs) were built in the late 1990s and sought to address issues of extreme bandwidth pressures. However, driven by the uptick of video content, they began to deploy outside of IXPs. Port choices over time has increased to meet demand, and technological advancements enabled the adoption of faster Ethernet speeds.

An interactive session took place, looking at the needs and challenges of the community. Some of the biggest challenges of interconnection and peering in Africa include cost, lack of knowledge, connectivity, technical skills, and IP transit.

AfPIF provides a platform for multi-stakeholder engagement and facilitates the sharing of best practices and solutions to challenges. This year, the panel discussion from WomenTechConnect Empowering Women Internet Engineers: Mentorship, Advocacy, and Allyship Strategies for Success identified successes, challenges, and areas for improvement for women in the technology space.

Women were encouraged to identify young ladies with potential who can be developed into leaders through presentation, storytelling, and self-mastery–to move past identifying oneself solely in the corporate environment and self-identify in their individual spaces.

There is a disproportionate number of opportunities between girls and boys, and parents can do more to motivate and teach skills to inspire girls to achieve goals outside of traditional roles.

Maud Adjeley Ashong Elliot, VP of the Internet Society Ghana Chapter discussed the need for sensitization of parents and guardians toward technology to empower girls at home to continue with ICT skills without interference, particularly in rural areas of Ghana.

The importance of mentorship in the workplace was discussed with nuances in actual barriers and perceived barriers. However, women should be ‘intentional about self-care’, and Estelle Akofio-Sowah, West Africa Regional Manager for CSquared, says “work is a part of life, so there is no work-life balance. What we are looking for is a balanced life.”

A call to action was issued–organizations with internship opportunities, scholarships, and other incentivised programs should be inclusive of women of all ages and push women to advance beyond age limitations.

Data presented in Africa’s Digital Economies and Digital Divide, identified that women over the age of 35 are particularly affected by issues of digital skills and literacy.

Out of Africa’s total population of 1.43 billion, over 44% live in urban areas, with 602 million Internet users, equating to 43% of the population. Internet users are growing in Africa at a rate of 13% year on year. 650 million people in Africa use mobile phones, representing 45% of the continent’s population.

Concerning Internet adoption, Middle and Eastern Africa have some of the lowest Internet usage in the world. The Digital Economy Initiative for Africa (DE4A) aims to ensure that every individual, business, and government in Africa will be digitally enabled by 2030 in support of the African Union “Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa.

The solution–Internet development in Africa should be guided by Africa, in Africa, for Africa, through digital skills and digital infrastructure.

ISP engineers, network and peering architects, and Internet enthusiasts seeking to deepen their understanding of BGP routing policies within their networks or organizations heard about routing policy best practices. Summarized:

  • Max prefixes tracking helps to prevent route leaks and aggregation
  • Keeping data up to date ensures robust routing policies for networks

Participants were called upon to standardize network configuration based on interconnection and filtering best practices and adhere to and practice routing hygiene.

Watch out for the Day Three Summary for more content on the African peering ecosystem.