Category Archives: AfPIF2014

Africa Internet Operators Explore ways of Interconnecting Better

By Rebecca Wanjiku

African Internet Service Providers, content distribution networks, infrastructure providers, government network managers and regulators are meeting in Dakar, Senegal, to explore ways to interconnect and share content within the region.

Africa has invested in infrastructure over the last eight years but most of the content accessed locally is hosted abroad. The Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) is an initiative by the Internet Society, which seeks to foster interconnection and sharing of content to further reduce the connectivity costs.

“In 2011 an OECD report highlighted that over 99.5 percent of interconnections are formed using “hand-shake” agreements at peering events; AfPIF is one such key event, created to foster a community of practice on issues related to peering and interconnection,” said Sofie Maddens, Senior Director of Global Services at the Internet Society.

Mathieu Paonessa from Jaguar Networks gave the keynote speech on the future of content hosting in Africa. He compared some of the policy and cross border issues in Africa with places like Europe where operations within the region are seamless.

“One of the major obstacles of hosting is the requirements by governments that investors must set up companies in each country they want to offer services; the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo Brazzaville have been unable to cross connect and share infrastructure, yet the capital cities are separated by a river,” said Paonessa.

Policy issues are hampered by slow pace of amendments to existing laws and the fact that some countries ICT sectors have developed at a faster rate than others. For instance, Nigeria’s “Nollywood” is the third largest film producer globally, after the US and India. Most of the infrastructure available in the continent can not meet the demands of the online users meaning most of the content is hosted abroad.

“Local content is essential to local industry and jobs, and ultimately boosts the resiliency of the economy; the topics discussed at AfPIF are critical to creating an environment that supports the ongoing development of the Internet in the region,” added Maddens.

During the meetings, networks are encouraged to approach each other and set up meetings to explore ways to share content locally. The meeting has been considered a success over the years.

“During last year’s AfPIF meeting, we met with the team from Liquid Telecom and explained the challenges the gaming community had in Uganda; they agreed to host our servers and now the community has grown and set up other businesses related to gaming,” said Kyle Spencer, the Director of Uganda Internet Exchange and one of the founders of

With the support from Liquid Telecom, the multi-player gaming community was able to attract players from Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa, among other countries. The reduced latencies have encouraged players to explore ways to improve and tweak the games to suit their local settings.

In the next two days, discussions will delve into details of how to set up bilateral agreements, how to attract more networks to the Internet Exchange Point and how to measure and analyze traffic coming from the region.

Africa getting attention from global network operators, CDNs

By Rebecca Wanjiku

After five years of investing in internet infrastructure, growing the level of local content generation and increasing the number of internet users, Africa seems to be getting the attention of major global network operators and Content Distribution Networks.

In 2010, about 60 infrastructure providers, Internet Service Providers, and experts from the tech industry met in Nairobi to discuss ways to interconnect more within the continent and exchange more content.

At that time, only Google was in the room, had started operations in Africa, and was willing to explore ways to help the continent maximize its infrastructure and in the process lower connectivity costs. This year, Akamai, Cloudflare, Interxion and Jaguar Networks are present at the Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum and have expressed their interest to grow services in the region.

Africa is the continent with the highest growth of Internet penetration and has one of the fastest growing economies; with over 15 percent of the population in Africa with access to the Internet, then it is indeed time for Internet business in Africa,” said Sofie Maddens, Senior Director of Global Services at the Internet Society.

Maddens added that a 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 through lower costs and lower latencies.

Google probably carries most of the content accessed in the region and its decision to enter the market was driven by the desire to raise the number of internet users as well as grow its business. Usually, if there are many users, Google can set up a server farm, a Point of Presence (POP) or set up the global cache. Apart from a stable internet, Google usually requires stable dedicated power and a stable economic climate, in order for them to set up a data center in any country.

“Given the stringent requirements from Google, I doubt any African country can qualify for the set up of a data center but we continue to grow the POPs and global cache in the region,” said Thomas Volmer, Senior manager with the Google Global Cache team in Europe.

Volmer was presenting on the requirements that a country must fulfill before getting Google infrastructure. The requirements are similar to what Akamai or any other CDN asks for.

While making their presentations, Cloudflare, Jaguar and Interxion made it clear that there is need for the region to grow its content before global players come into the market, but the interest is growing.

“We are looking for more partners in Africa, we are setting up POPs in Johannesburg, Mombasa and Cairo,” said Jerome Fleury,  a network engineer at Cloudflare.

Just as infrastructure investment is important, regulatory development is equally important to global players. Most of them want the situation they have in Europe where the law allows them to operate in many countries as long as they have a license from one country.

“No company wants to keep investing in licenses from one country to the other; it makes work easier if the law recognizes some of these developments, the infrastructure is open and there is competition,” said Kai Wulff, Project Lead for the Google fiber optic project in Uganda.

Some countries in the region enjoy a more vibrant regulatory atmosphere that allows more international companies to set up shop, but others are still stuck in the 1990s and laws have not yet changed.

The development of Internet Exchange Points is said to be one of the key ways to grow internet infrastructure and a current project between the African Union and the Internet Society has started processes in30 countries, that are aimed at setting up IXPs.

Most of the CDNs start by setting up infrastructure in South Africa, considered the most developed in the region, then move to the other countries like Kenya and Nigeria.

Ethiopia workshop on Internet Exchange Point concludes successfully

The African Union commission, in collaboration with the Internet Society, conducted best Practices Capacity Building workshop from 24-25 June 2014 at its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The workshop was attended by participants from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan.

The Opening Ceremony which was attended by twenty nine participants was officiated by the acting head of information society division, Mr. Adil Suleiman, African Union Commission and Dr. Dawit Bekele, Director, Internet Society-Africa Bureau.

The workshop was part of the African Union (AU) and African Internet Exchange System (AXIS) project to support the establishment of IXPs across Africa. The AXIS project aims at keeping Africa’s local Internet traffic local to the continent by providing capacity building and technical assistance to facilitate the establishment of IXPs in Africa.

Mr. Kayihura Mabano conducted the workshop and aired his desire to see countries establish their own IXPs. He pointed out the benefits the countries will experience; local Internet traffic will be routed locally rather through exchange point, there will be downward pressure on costs and the economy of the countries will grow and distribution of local Internet content will multiply.

Theforum also provided participants with the required knowledge to enhance better understanding of the benefits of IXPs and plans to establish IXPs in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen which was invited as an observer.

During the workshop, participants decided to form a taskforce to enhance the establishment and management of Internet Exchange points (IXPs) in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan. The stakeholders of the respective Countries were urged to establish IXP and the African Union in collaboration with the Internet Society will offer a five day technical aspect workshop to impart technical and administrative skills needed to set-up, operate and administer an IXP.

Other participants at the workshop include representatives from Djibouti Telecom, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology of Ethiopia, Ethio-Telecom, Addis Ababa University Institute of Technology, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Somalia, Ministry of Telecommunication and Postal services of South Sudan, MTN- South Sudan, RCS –Communication South Sudan, Zain- South Sudan, Bilpam Telecommunication-South Sudan, ISOC Yemen Chapter, Yemen Telecom, and Tele Yemen ISP.

Ebola outbreak in parts of West Africa

Global and regional health authorities have confirmed an outbreak of the Ebola virus in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

To date, no outbreak has been reported in Dakar or Senegal, nor are there any active travel advisories against travel to Senegal where the AfPIF event is taking place.

We would like to assure you the Internet Society is closely monitoring the situation and will provide updated information on this website if the situation evolves.

For information about the outbreak, the disease and precautions, we provide the following websites for your review:

Five years… AfPIF still going strong

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.

What Next for Burundi IXP After Successful launch?

Burundi is amongst the latest East African country to set up an IXP, and hopes to grow the capacity exchanged locally.

The Burundi IXP Internet Exchange Point was successfully launched in March this year in Bujumbura, and is expecting to exchange 500Mbps at its peak within two months.

“The ICT community in Burundi has been on the front line to ensure the service is successful and has assisted in several ways to operationalize IXP,” said Coppens Pasteur Ndayiragije, President of BurundiX.

Currently, local providers peering at the IXP are; BBS, ECONET wireless and SPIDERNET. The country sees technology as an enabler in conducting business, poverty reduction and establishment of effective Burundian information society.

The main players in supply of Internet services in the country ECONET Wireless, SPIDERNET, BBS, LEO, ONATEL, USAN, CBINET, TEMPO AFRICELL, OSANET, but Ndayiragije is optimistic the IXP will also attract local banks, water and electricity (REGIDESO), content providers, government applications (COMGOV), and Burundi Revenue Authority (OBR),

“We hope that before the end of this year, BurundiX will be the second IXP in East Africa, after Kenya,” said Ndayiragije. “In the near future, all the local remaining ISP will join courtesy of our collaboration with the ARCT (ICT Regulator) we have put in place, a new taskforce to see how remaining ISPs (LEO, ONATEL, USAN, CBINET, TEMPO AFRICELL, OSANET) will join BurundiX in the two coming months.”

Come and meet BurundIX amongst other African IXPs at the AfPIF event in Dakar starting from 26 – 28 August 2014.