Category Archives: AfPIF2016

Latency is Today’s Internet currency– Insights of seven years of AfPIF participation

By Harald A. Summa, CEO, DE-CIX

The Internet is a fundamental driver of growth and social development and is able to improve healthcare, education and the delivery of other critical services in a country. Internet traffic is sent to submarine cables, to European Internet exchange points like London or Frankfurt and then back, leading to high latency thereby slowing the Internet. This hinders the development of applications and local infrastructure, like Voice over IP, E-Government services, hosting and data centers.

“When we came in as sponsors to the first AfPIF meeting several years ago, we were keen to meet the African ISP community and learn more about the African interconnection ecosystem. We have learned a lot over the years; about the existing structures, challenges and equally seen a lot of positive developments but there’s still room for improvement” Said Harald A. Summa- CEO, DE-CIX

Some of the African countries where we have seen a lot of developments include South Africa. There is increasingly good connectivity in major cities and urban centers of countries like Kenya, Nigeria, Angola, Ghana among others. However, in most countries, especially in the rural areas latency times are not anywhere near the european average of 20 to 40 milliseconds. In Africa, latency times are often higher than 300 milliseconds, and are considered normal within and between countries. Improving latency times is a very critical step in this journey.

Often, international content providers don’t bring their content into African countries due to difficult political or infrastructural situations and a lack of peering opportunities. There are more than 30 IXPs established all over Africa, but the majority is on a low data throughput. DE-CIX opened two Internet exchanges in Marseille and Palermo in 2015 to bring international content as close to Africa as possible. Palermo is the closest European point to Africa’s eastern coast with several submarine cables which significantly reduces latency times compared to sending traffic from London or Frankfurt.

“Our participation in AfPIF every year is to drive the development of peering and to share our knowledge of operating Internet exchange points for more than 20 years. Africa has the huge potential of having over one billion potential Internet users and they deserve better connectivity. To drive this, we assist with consultancy projects like Angonix, the Internet exchange point located in Luanda, Angola. We train engineers locally, share our BGP and peering knowledge and show ways of growing an Internet exchange point. AfPIF is the forum we use to meet the African ISP community and talk about challenges and opportunities – for a better Internet experience in Africa” Concluded Harald A. Summa

In order for peering to be the most efficient, it is important that the exchange of traffic is kept local. There has been some improvement over the years but it is not enough.

SEACOM seeks to increase connectivity numbers through direct to business services

SEACOM has stepped up its drive to connect more people and increase content in Africa, by launching a direct to business service in South Africa.

The Pan African fiber optic services provider is seeking to increase the level of content and number of users on its network, given that previously, it was primarily providing IP transit to ISPs and content providers in the region.

“Our growth rate is exceeding the aggressive targets we set for ourselves when we soft-launched the SEACOM Business division in January 2015. We’ve found that there is a great deal of pent-up demand in the business market for high-speed fiber Internet access at an affordable cost. We have more than 65 channel partners serving the market and are adding around 60 customers a month to our user base,” said Linda Carter – Head of Marketing, SEACOM.

Since 2009, SEACOM has been offering IP services within and outside Africa, growing local businesses as well as its footprint in Africa and Europe. SEACOM maintains that IP services remain a key part of the product portfolio and they expect continued growth.

This year, SEACOM is continuing its sponsorship of AfPIF, an event that helps the company engage with the tech community in Africa and contribute to the overall growth.

“SEACOM has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with ISOC AfPIF since we began sponsoring the event in 2012. We sponsor AfPIF and support it with Internet connectivity every year because it gives us an opportunity to connect personally with the Internet community within and outside Africa. It has really helped us get closer to our key users and partners. We look forward to continuing this mutually beneficial relationship into the future,” Carter added.

According to the business division brochure, SEACOM will be providing:

  • Internet Access Services- provides customers with high-speed access to the Internet through multiple global tier 1 providers, a mesh of subsea and terrestrial routes as well as optimized routing to many key African operators, service providers and content delivery networks;
  • Ethernet Services offer dedicated, transparent, EoMPLS layer-2 virtual private networking (VPN) connectivity across SEACOM’s network and onwards through SEACOM’s international partner networks;
  • Private Line Services give clients secure, dedicated, low-latency connectivity across multiple cable systems connecting Africa, Europe and Asia, as well as to key regional interconnection points in Africa;
  • Cloud Services – Hosted mail, online backup, end-point protection, virtual hosting and other cloud-based services provide customers with the ability to leverage the cloud to improve business processes and reduce costs.

The next step for SEACOM will be to ramp up the roll out of SEACOM Business solutions in Kenya, and to start looking at growth opportunities in Uganda, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

AXIS – Boosting Africa’s economy by keeping traffic local

When the first Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) was held in 2010, participants were in praise of the economic benefits of sharing content locally, and the contribution to overall business growth.

Though the number of countries with Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) were few, mainly in Eastern and Southern Africa, there was general consensus that the number of IXPs needed to grow, in order to lower cost of connectivity further.

Two years later, the African Union Commission partnered with the Internet Society to implement the first phase of the African Internet Exchange System (AXIS). The project was meant to provide training and technical assistance to facilitate the establishment of IXPs in 30 AU Member States.

With help from subject matter experts drawn from the Internet technical community in Africa and around the world, the Internet Society was able to deliver 60 workshops for 30 countries. The workshops demonstrated the impact of local exchange of Internet traffic between providers through IXPs. These trainings led to the establishment of 10 IXPs in Namibia, Burundi, Swaziland, Gambia, Gabon, Seychelles, Mauritius, Liberia, Mauritania and Madagascar.

“The impact of IXPs for the communities they serve are tremendous. They improve considerably the quality of Internet access by lowering latency to access local content and by increasing reliability since an outage of international connection will no more have an impact on local access. They also help push down prices by avoiding unnecessary international traffic to access local content” said Dawit Bekele, Regional Bureau Director for Africa, Internet Society.

At the start of 2010 about 11 countries had a submarine cable landing station and have increased to two or three over the years. The continued growth in the number and capacity of submarine cables connecting Africa to other regions has therefore helped to support the increase and usage of IXPs for local traffic exchange and access to content. The presence of these IXPs on the continent has on its own given impetus to the availability of good quality internet and saved Internet Service Providers costs associated with high connectivity fees.

Though IXPs take time to grow the traffic, it is projected that the ten countries are making considerable savings through local exchange, which can result in lower connectivity costs.

“The annual AfPIF Forum and AXIS are complementary activities that have positively impacted the peering ecosystem in Africa. Through the collaboration of the two we have seen the establishment of national IXPs in virtually every African country that didn’t have an IXP at the start of the project. There are now 36 IXPs covering 50% of African countries which is a significant growth compared to 2008 when they covered less than 25%” Said Bekele.

The Best Practices workshops conducted under the AXIS project trained more than 750 people from 30 African countries (Burkina Faso, Senegal, Burundi, the Gambia, Namibia, Guinea, Niger, Benin, Swaziland, Mauritania, Mali, Algeria, Cameroon, Seychelles, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Liberia, Chad, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome, Comoros, Madagascar, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, Mauritius, Equatorial Guinea and Central African Republic)

Given Africa’s infrastructure challenges, the best practice workshops served to demonstrate that even though most of the traffic was routed internationally, it was possible for ISPs and content providers to make savings by exchanging the content locally.

“With the goal of creating a consensus between the main actors on the need to establish an IXP, all workshops have reached their intended target audience and brought enhanced knowledge on the value and benefits of connecting to a local exchange point,” added Bekele.

Even though only ten countries have set up IXPs thus far, it is worth noting that, all countries where the Best Practices workshops have taken place were able to reach an agreement to create a local taskforce to champion the establishment and management of a local IXP. As such, we anticipate that more countries will setup their respective IXPs in the days ahead.

Connecting Africa: Let’s Keep the Momentum Going!

By Betel Hailu
Communications Coordinator for the African Regional Bureau, Internet Society

Location: Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Date: 30th August- 1st September 2016

I’m leaving an incredible week at the African Internet Summit in Bostwana feeling inspired! Africa IS at a tipping point and we need to keep the momentum going.

To that end I’d like to remind everyone about the African Peering and Interconnection Forum (or AfPIF it’s known) happening at the end of August in  Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

AfPIF about building connections.

Connections across boarders, connections between people, connections between governments, connections between businesses.

AfPIF is the event to come to in Africa to meet:

  • Chief Technology Officers of Internet Service Providers or companies;
  • Technical experts who build and run Internet Exchange Points;
  • Policy and Decision Makers – both in Africa and Globally;
  • Representatives from financial institutions around the world

Here are ways you can take part:

Why are we doing this? Here’s why:

Help #ConnectAfrica and join us!

This article was originally published on Internet Society’s Blog page.

The Internet Society brings African Peering and Interconnection Forum to Tanzania for first time

[Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – 30 March 2016] The Internet Society will bring its annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) to Tanzania for the first time. The organisation has partnered with the Tanzania Internet Service Providers Association (TISPA) to hold the seventh annual AfPIF in the country’s capital, Dar es Salaam, 30 August- 1 September, 2016.Serving as a platform to expand Internet infrastructure and services across Africa, the event will bring together key players to address the opportunities in interconnection, peering and traffic exchange on the continent.

The forum seeks to build cross-border interconnection opportunities and facilitate discussions on African Internet infrastructure challenges, including terrestrial capacity, development of national and regional Internet Exchange Points (IXP) and local content.

“Internet connectivity in Africa has increased over the last few years delivering access to close to a third of the population on the continent. Improving interconnection and traffic exchange has become even more important today as an increasing number of Africans rely on the Internet in their daily lives,” explained Dawit Bekele, Regional Director for Africa of the Internet Society.

“Since we first launched this event six years ago, we have seen a notable increase in investments and initiatives that have led to improvements in the extent and quality of national and regional interconnection. This has been possible thanks to the connections people make at AfPIF. The forum has in particular enabled Africans to collaborate and work together towards the development of the Internet infrastructure on the continent,” he added.

“TISPA remains committed to advancing and protecting the interests of its members while promoting the advancement of the Internet sector. We believe by working with AfPIF to host this auspicious event in August will be one leap forward for Tanzania in terms of network optimization” said Vinay Choudary, the chairman of TISPA.

AfPIF has previously been held in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Morocco, Senegal and Mozambique. Last year’s event featured 232 participants from 57 countries and an online participation of 978 people in 77 different countries.

The Internet Society aims to advance the African interconnection agenda at AfPIF-2016, in line with the vision to achieve 80% local and 20% international Internet traffic by the year 2020. The event welcomes sponsors as well as past attendees and new participants to join the leading peering and interconnection forum for Africa.

Promising more than just a forum – AfPIF connects Internet service, infrastructure, and content providers, with government regulators and policymakers to provide an opportunity to advance peering and interconnection arrangements and to make a positive contribution to Africa’s Internet resources.

Read last year’s event summary report

Visit AfPIF 2016 websites both in English and French

Read our blog “AfPIF is coming to Tanzania” 

About the Internet Society

The Internet Society,, is the trusted independent source for Internet information and thought leadership from around the world. It is also the organizational home for the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). With its principled vision and substantial technological foundation, the Internet Society promotes open dialogue on Internet policy, technology, and future development among users, companies, governments, and other organizations. Working with its members and Chapters around the world, the Internet Society enables the continued evolution and growth of the Internet for everyone.

Media Contact: Betel Hailu, 

About Tanzania Internet Service Providers Association  (TISPA)

TISPA is an association that is also non profit organization (NGO) whose members are the Internet Service Providers operating in Tanzania and aims to bring together the Internet community to collectively make the Internet accessible to as many people as possible by encouraging the proliferation of Internet services in the sector, and have their effects be as positive as possible to the users and the country in general.

For more information, visit

Media contact: Ismail Settenda,