Category Archives: AfPIF2017

MainOne: An enabler of ICT innovation in West Africa


Despite the benefits of technology as an economic enabler, Africa continues to lag behind other developed continents in its adoption of technology, impacting the region’s ability to boost competitiveness and improve the well-being of its citizens. According to the Internet World Stats, broadband internet penetration on the continent is at 28.3%, lower than the world average of 49.6% and pales in comparison to the Americas with 69.8%, Asia at 45.2% and Europe at 76.7%. Despite the growth opportunities on the second most populous continent, with a rising middle-class that is gaining purchasing power, and the world’s largest pool of untapped brainpower and talent, Africa is still sorely lacking in the infrastructure to effectively enable ICT development. Up until 2010, the main internet connection for West Africa was via the SAT3 cable system in the Atlantic which was extremely expensive, highly regulated, and offered no diversity.

Companies like MainOne recognised this challenge and worked to bridge the digital divide by investing in a fiber optic cable system, connecting Portugal to Nigeria and Ghana. Launched for operations in July 2010, MainOne’s 7000km subsea cable on inception carried more capacity and brought competition to a market where wholesale Internet access was nearly 500 times the price in the US. MainOne’s entry immediately propelled a crash in the high cost of wholesale internet services by as much as 50 percent and paved the way for the internet revolution across the region. Many ISPs that were hitherto out of business got a new lease of life. Since the launch of MainOne’s services in the country, there has been a re-birth of ISPs across West Africa, many of which are customers of MainOne. As at the last count, ISPs in West Africa including Smile Communications, Spectranet, Cobranet, IPNX, Surfline, Blu Telecoms, Busy Internet,, amongst others, are all connected to the MainOne submarine cable facility. This investment has enabled internet penetration in countries like Nigeria and Ghana to grow from the region of 20% to over 50% of the population within the past 7 years.

In response to the rapidly transforming business landscape in West Africa, MainOne has also evolved from a submarine cable company to a full-service business-to-business communications services provider, offering an expanded range of data center and connectivity services across nine countries in West Africa. MainOne has built the region’s premier Data Center named MDXi; a 600 Rack, Tier III certified facility, and with further certifications with PCI DSS, ISO 9001, and ISO 27001. MDXi has ambitiously resolved to address the growing demand for Colocation, Cloud and Disaster Recovery Services across West Africa.

MainOne is also supporting the start-up ecosystem in Nigeria and Ghana to create sustainable businesses and enterprises. The company built a 30km fiber cable system in Yaba, Lagos in partnership with the Lagos State Government, CCHub and Technovision which stimulated the cluster of tech start-ups, developers, programmers, and entrepreneurs in what is now dubbed “Lagos Silicon Valley”. MainOne has also backed other initiatives to develop technology penetration via partnerships with Andela,, Demo Africa, Hackerspace, MEST, among many others. These efforts in Yaba have created a ripple effect, generating 2000+ direct jobs and 50+ businesses across ISP, E-Commerce and ICT sectors attracting over $200m in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). The Yaba Silicon Valley has attracted the attention of global internet companies with visits to Nigeria by top executives including Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO, Sundar Pichal, a further validation of the vibrancy of Nigeria’s tech industry.

MainOne remains at the forefront of driving broadband development in West Africa and is focused on new initiatives such as a submarine cable landing in Cote D’Ivoire and expansion of its terrestrial fiber network in Lagos in order to continue to provide high quality internet services to open up West Africa for digital transformation.

Thirteen Fellows to Attend AfPIF 2017

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

The Internet Society will support thirteen fellows to attend the 8th African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF), scheduled for 22 – 24 August, 2017 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

The AfPIF fellowship program is designed to offer opportunities for qualified applicants to attend the event. The fellows come from: Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ghana, Gambia, Mauritius, Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco, Togo, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Lesotho, and Sudan. The annual event brings together governments, policy makers, technical experts and business leaders to discuss African Internet infrastructure challenges, including capacity, regional and national Internet Exchange Point (IXP) development, local content development, and connectivity.

“The AfPIF Fellowship is an important program that gives the opportunity to many to participate in the Forum and gain insights on how Africa can maximize opportunities for increased interconnection and peering.  I would like to thank our sponsors and the Fellowship Committee who make this happen every year,” said Dawit Bekele, Africa Regional Bureau Director for the Internet Society.

The fellows will have a chance to:

  • Share experiences on ways to improve running and administering of a new or existing IXP
  • Use the business opportunity to meet potential IXP members
  • Promote public awareness and evangelism of IXPs and peering in general at the national and regional level
  • Advance and influence national/regional policies on peering and cross-border Internet interconnection
  • Provide a face-to-face networking opportunity for peers and experts

The 2017 AfPIF Fellows are:

  • Abdulie Sowe (Gambia), Administrator, Serekunda Internet Exchange Point (SIXP)
  • Alassane G. Blaise DIAGNE (Senegal), Director General, State Information Technology Agency (ADIE)
  • Alkhansa Mohamed (Sudan), Quantum for Advance Business
  • Cedrick Adrien MBEYET (Mauritius), System Engineer, AFRINIC
  • Damnam Kanlanfei Bagolibe (Togo), TGIX
  • Emmanuel Kwarteng (Ghana), GIX
  • Frank Habicht (Tanzania), TISPA
  • Ghislain Nkeramugaba (Rwanda), RICTA/RINEX
  • Islam Abou El Ata (Morocco), CAS-IX
  • Kiemde Wênden tôe fâa (Burkina Faso), Burkina Faso Internet EXchange Point (BFIX)
  • Kyle Spencer (Uganda), Uganda Internet eXchange Point
  • Nico Tshintu Bakajika (Democratic Republic of Congo), ISPA-DRC/KINIX
  • Tumelo Mosito (Lesotho), IT operations manager, Econet Lesotho

Read more about AfPIF-2017 fellows

Together for a better African Internet: Workonline and DE-CIX intensify their partnership

By Rebecca Wanjiku

As part of its commitment to assisting African networks to further develop their global footprint, Workonline, leading provider of wholesale IP transit and transport services based in sub-Saharan Africa, and DE-CIX as a worldwide leading Internet Exchange Operator, are continuing their successful cooperation. Both companies will be present at this year’s African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) in Abidjan, Côte D’Ivoire, from 22 to 24 of August.

In this partnership, Workonline takes the role of a reseller for DE-CIX premium peering services. Peering at an Internet Exchange (IX) opens up opportunities for the local African networks to lower their latency to other networks in the world. This also brings African eyeballs closer to content networks with a European presence, which improves the internet browsing experience for the end-user.

DE-CIX operates 11 carrier and data center neutral IXs from the Middle East and Europe to the United States of America. DE-CIX in Frankfurt (Germany) is the world’s leading IX with more than 5.6 Terabits per second peak traffic. More than 1000 customers from 60+ nations use DE-CIX’s platforms to lower costs, reduce latency, and increase IP performance and resilience.

“With this partnership we are clearly building digital bridges between the African and European continent for the sake of a better Internet for African end-users. We are committed to further grow our relationship with Workonline to let the importance of peering grow globally”, says Melanie Kempf – Director Global Partner Relations at DE-CIX.

The company’s relationship with the German-based Internet Exchange (IX), DE-CIX, will assist Workonline and its clients to extend their reach. The exchange is now one of several global IXs to which Workonline offers remote peering services.

“Workonline remains committed to connecting Africa to the world and the world to Africa. Partnerships such as this assist our clients in reaching their goals and extending their reach. Improving the quality of the internet in Africa boosts socio-economic development and accelerate growth in the region. We believe fast and easy to access Internet is the key to a well-functioning modern society”, states Edward Lawrence, Director of Business Development at Workonline.

Contact @ AfPIF 2017:
Marco Brandstaetter (DE-CIX);; +43 676 5185 027
Benjamin Deveaux (Workonline);; +27 71 610 2458

Why ALL African Internet and Data operators should be attending AfPIF-2017

By Michuki Mwangi 

Top African and international Internet companies are supporting this year’s Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF), set for August 22-24 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Netflix, Facebook, Google, Akamai, DE Cix, LINX, YAHOO, Netnod and FranceIX are among the global players supporting AfPIF while Liquid Telecom, Seacom, Angola Cables, Angonix, AFRINIC, and MainOne are the leading supporters from Africa.

In the last seven years, AfPIF has established itself as the most important Internet event with respect to peering and interconnection in Africa and any operator that is looking at growing their local, regional and global interconnection is best served at AfPIF.

For who should attend please see AfPIF-2017 website.

Why should you attend AfPIF-2017?

Global CDN’s that generate at least 40% of all Internet consumer traffic in Africa will be attending AfPIF in Abidjan, which makes it the largest AfPIF by CDN ratio ever. The CDNs are: Google, Akamai, Yahoo, Netflix, Facebook amongst others.

Major European IXPs will be represented: in the last seven years of AfPIF, it has been proven that networks from emerging markets can offload at least 40% of their International transit traffic at large IXPs in Europe. Some of the major European IXPs that will be represented in Abidjan are: AMS IX, LINX, DE CIXFrance IX and Netnod.

“LINX has been proud to have supported AfPIF for the last five years. Seven main cable routes from Africa land in the UK and today over 40 African networks peer at LINX. Events like AfPIF are vital in enabling us to meet with network providers in the region who are looking to connect to our exchange in London. We are delighted to be in Abidjan in Côte D’Ivoire this year to continue to establish and build on these important relationships,” said the LINX marketing team.

The technical community has committed to promoting of 80% local exchange of content by 2020. AfPIF provides a platform to advance this vision by focusing on the policy, technical and business aspects of interconnection in Africa.

African Networks will be represented: Seacom, Main One, Liquid, and Angola Cables will lead a list of Africa’s major terrestrial and submarine Cable operators that will be present and giving updates.

Africa has also witnessed growth in data center infrastructure, which has boosted the growth of local content hosting. The growth of data centers is projected to be a major driver of 80% local content hosting.

Interested in hosting in Africa? Come and interact with the teams from Teraco and amongst others.

This year, AfPIF has the attention of optical vendors who are innovating solutions that lead to lower interconnection costs. Adva and Flexoptix teams will be on site showcase how they impact the peering and interconnection ecosystem.

During the meeting, networks present will get a chance to introduce themselves to all the attendees during the “peering personals” a precursor to the peering bilateral meetings sessions.

It starts with a handshake

We have the meeting tool that makes it possible for those attending to organize meetings with potential network representatives attending AfPIF. Studies shows that many of peering and interconnection agreements are made during peering events like AfPIF and hence the need. Remember meetings are booked in advance – you want to make sure that you secure your meeting opportunity early.

This video provides a perfect overview of why AfPIF and peering matters to networks.

Global and regional networks are here to share, meet and do business, register and secure your meeting.

African IXPs continue growing, investing

By Rebecca Wanjiku

The continued growth of ICT infrastructure and awareness has led to growth in the number of IXPs in Africa, and investment in more stable data center environment.

According to Africa IXP Association, the increase in number of submarine fiber optic cables and terrestrial fiber in Africa has led to increased content and eventual increase in the number of IXPs. AFIX aims to foster an enabling environment for IXPs, help them maximize their value, improve connectivity within the continent, and increase the Internet’s value for all.

“Since 2010 there has been almost 20 new IXPs; the undersea and terrestrial fibre cables have had an impact; the quality of IXPs has improved over time and with surveillance and biometric security,” said Kyle Spencer, Africa IXP Association coordinator.

The number of ports at African IXPs have increased from 136 in 2008, after a survey done by Michuki Mwangi; in 2015, AFIX conducted a benchmark survey and found there were 577 ports; in 2016, the survey identified 795 ports.

With increased number of peers, IXPs have moved to Data Centers; that provide stable connectivity with back up power connections and increased security measures. The Kenya Internet Exchange Point (KIXP) moved to the East Africa Data Center in Nairobi, providing more stability, especially during power outage.

“However this is self-reported data and often not strictly verified and so a power backup system may only last a few minutes or have a video surveillance with no video being recorded and so not fully indicative,” said Spencer, while presenting findings at the Africa Internet Summit in Nairobi.

In 2008, most IXPs were set up by ISP Associations but Spencer noted that they had transitioned to not-for-profit entities and in other cases governments had set up their own IXPs to exchange content.

Continued training, discussions and peering bilateral meeting at the Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) annual meetings have helped raise awareness on the benefits of IXPs. The AXIS Project, collaboration between the Internet Society and the African Union has also been critical in the growth of IXPs in the region.

The study found that Increasing network diversity and more exchange points will see more content providers, more government networks and more enterprise networks showing up in IXPs. Most internet exchanges in our region have websites with a host name of their country code top level domains (ccTLD).

Launched in 2012 at AfPIF in Johannesburg, AFIX is a member of the Internet eXchange Federation (IX-F) since 2014 and currently serves 37 IXPs in 28 countries out of 54 African countries (according to the AU). The oldest IXP in Africa is JINX (1996) and the newest are Madagascar and Djibouti (2016).

Facebook Seeks to Increase Connectivity in Africa

By Rebecca Wanjiku

Facebook is hoping to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Vision Process to inform network roll out, enhancement and investment in connectivity in Africa.

At the Open Cellular meeting held in Nairobi on June 19th and 20th, Facebook outlined preliminary details it had been able to establish through its use of AI and satellite imaging. Satellite imagery will help map electrical grid data, which can help build micro solar grids for the organizations interested in the area.

The project, done in conjunction with Columbia University, seeks to use the massive data Facebook has to determine human settlement, population density, type of connectivity used (2G, 3G, 4G,), distance from the nearest tower, power grid and to a larger extent the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) if factors are combined and analysed. The project is being carried out in 27 countries and Kenya is among the pilot countries.

Facebook hopes to make this data available to network providers, who can use it to determine and plan for network roll out, upgrades and enhancement. It will also give a better idea on the percentage of people connected, gaps and how best to cover them. Facebook is working with the Open Street Map team to establish how far people are from the nearest coverage and integrating the data.

“Providing this kind of information and visuals will help operators in enabling network upgrades; they can know the signal strength, timing of when people use the network, if users have 4G enabled phones, which can inform infrastructure planning,” said Ashish Kelkar, Senior Director, Infrastructure Strategy and Operations Analytics, Facebook.

Disaster response is one of the areas the data might be critical; allowing humanitarian agencies to respond and provide the appropriate assistance. Facebook is working with the United Nations agencies and with the World Bank in Malawi to help in the fiber backbone project.

Facebook is collaboration partners with in testing data sets and is interested in incorporating other partners that may be interested.

Regarding Open Cellular meeting, policy makers, techies and business people gathered at the iHub Nairobi to discuss ways to invest and run businesses focussing on rural areas.

The presentations and discussions focussed on entrepreneurship, the changing face on access, building open ecosystem for rural connectivity, connectivity and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), using big data to connect the unconnected, and creating opportunities for deployment among other topics.

There was a technical track, focussing on building wireless access platform, optimized access solutions for small communities, community cellular manager and building open source power solution for rural communities. The business track explored factors affecting businesses and opportunities in rural areas, building mobile applications for a bandwidth and device constrained world, regulatory opportunities for rural areas, scaling non traditional wireless networks and rural deployment strategies among other topics.

The meeting attracted global technology players such as; Telecom Infrastructure project, GSMA, Brck, USAID, Cavium and Nuran Wireless among others.

IXP Training from France-IX

By Franck Simon, President, France- IX

Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), where networks physically meet to cost effectively exchange local traffic, are an important part of the Internet, especially for enabling local users to access a variety of content and services. However, launching and maintaining an IXP, particularly in developing countries, can be complicated and start-up groups can benefit from knowledge, experience and training passed on by those of us who have been down the road before.

France-IX is the Premier Internet Peering Service Provider in France, offering public and private interconnection services through its carrier and data center neutral exchange points in Paris and Marseille.

France-IX interconnects several hundreds of telecommunications carriers, ISPs, content providers, content delivery networks and all other Internet networks worldwide with significant traffic in the Internet French market. This enhances the affordability and latency of the Internet traffic exchanged between its members and thus improves the overall quality of the Internet in France.

Founded in June 2010 with the support of the French Internet community, France-IX is a member-based association whose core values are neutrality, sustainability and constant improvement of the Internet.

To date, France-IX has provided IXP training to five African networks including two in Guinea: SEN-IX in Senegal and, most recently, CAS-IX in Morocco. Training typically comprises a few days of theory followed by hands-on technical training that would be considered niche even in the world of telecoms. The wealth of knowledge, built up and tested over many years in the field and which can’t be found in any book, is passed on in the following training modules:

1. Identify the IXP organisation type

In EMEA, the main types of IXPs are ISP associations, not-for-profit independent organizations, carrier-neutral commercial organizations or educational/government agencies. It is also possible to be a combination of these. For example, France-IX is a combination of a non-profit association and a sole owner of a private company to run its day-to-day operations, because this is the model that works best for its sustainability.

France-IX explains the pros and cons of each choice and advises on the final decision, which will be based on a number of factors including market expectations, local requirements and regulatory constraints. For example, if you choose to be a neutral organisation, you must use neutral datacentres and POP locations so you can attract members that value neutrality. Once the choice is made, you are trained on how to organize a board of directors, acting as the executive board of the neutral organization.

2. Identify the business model

It is crucial to have a sustainable business model, so depending on the context of the local telecoms market, France-IX advises its group of trainees to survey their potential market to choose between a paid professional service or a free model. If the choice is for a free model, the IXP will then need a number of founding members who will also act as capital investors to help launch the IXP.

3. Defining services and pricing

The next step is to identify which services need to be run on day 1 of operation, these are the ones that are mandatory, along with their pricing. Then a typical product launch plan can be rolled out later when the timing is right.

Pricing doesn’t have to be the cheapest. France-IX didn’t start with the lowest prices. Instead it set price points that would enable it to provide a professional service from day 1 and planned reductions over time. When setting pricing, the main question is not “is my pricing competitive?” but “is my pricing in line with the local market expectations?” This is key to success because each country and each market is different.

When defining a pricing policy, the main recommendations are:

  1. Reflect the local market and the current expectations;
  2. Apply pricing that is fair and competitive to similar services on the market;
  3. Cover your cost, not only to deliver the service, but to maintain it in the future.

4. IXP development

A successful IXP needs to focus on three main areas of development:

  1. Infrastructure – with each new point-of-presence (POP) you need to ensure it is geographically closer to the community you want to address so as to always be reducing latency;
  2. Services – the role of an IXP is changing. It is no longer purely a technical platform that connects networks to the Internet. Today, IXPs have the opportunity to offer members benefits beyond peering so France-IX advises new IXPs to listen to their community’s needs and go further by imagining new services that might be beneficial, such as anti-DDoS and DNS;
  3. Eco-system – you need to gather the local community together, i.e. a variety of networks who have a shared interest in exchanging traffic. This is natural to carriers, mobile operators, ISPs, Content Delivery Networks, social media and digital media but applies to others also. Any company delivering its services on the Internet is a good candidate and the IXP needs to understand what the existing and future popular services in its market are in order to stay relevant. These could be in e-commerce, mobile banking, video-on-demand, etc.

5. Best practices

This part of the training covers guidelines for best practice that an IXP should follow in the following three areas:

  1. Connecting members in a professional way and the rules of your connection procedure;
  2. Managing IXP infrastructure and members globally;
  3. Monitoring services.

6. Technical training

Finally the session moves from the meeting room to the lab for technical input, which is divided into:

  1. Running and monitoring IXP infrastructure
  2. Running services
  3. Handling outages – France-IX explains how to trouble-shoot the most common types of outages, simulating real situations based on fifteen years’ experience in the field.

As the leading digital gateway to Africa and the Middle East, the training France-IX provides is an important part of its aim to support the development of Internet connectivity in North and West Africa, helping these regions open up to the global economy.

Creating healthy digital eco systems for the African continent

By Harald A. Summa, CEO, DE-CIX

It has been several years since DE-CIX got involved in AfPIF. At first, we were keen to meet the African ISP community and to learn more about the African interconnection ecosystem. We started to learn more and more how the community and its digital infrastructure works. However, we are still in the listening and learning mode. There is a lot to do together, creating healthy digital eco systems.

On the African continent today, digital eco systems are far from being considered healthy. Internet traffic accessing dynamic content travels mostly via Kenya, Nigeria, Angola or South Africa up north to content hubs in Europe, using global Internet Exchange Points like London or Frankfurt. Internet traffic accessing static content tries to access caches locally. Local traffic should stay local in a country, but sometimes this is not the case and market potential for a local Internet Exchange Point is low. There is a lack of reliable infrastructures to reach several hundred million eyeballs and local content hubs. What this means is that Internet traffic travels abroad, resulting in long routes, and latency experience of over 400 milliseconds on congested routes is a common phenomenon.

The African continent offers huge potential, with over a billion Internet users underserved – and all of them deserve healthy digital eco systems to overcome the digital divide. We have seen positive developments in several African countries, like Angola, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

We joined AfPIF to drive the development of peering & interconnection forward, sharing our more than 20 years’ experience and knowledge in operating Internet Exchange points. High latency remains an issue for African users and only a few are able to reach content locally in the sense of a European reference point, which would be less than 20 milliseconds away. Many international content providers have not yet taken the plunge to build a content hub in African countries, because of variety of investment barriers. At DE-CIX, we have invested in three new Internet Exchanges that support African developments over the last couple of years, namely in Madrid, Marseille and Palermo. All of these support the needs of international content players targeting African networks and users, too. In addition, we have been supporting local IXP initiatives like in Angola for the last four years. Madrid, Marseille or Palermo are growing hubs for African content, offering access to various submarine cables. creates a content hub in SADC and a future short-cut to America. Our role is as a knowledge-sharing partner: we train engineers, build the community, share our BGP and peering knowledge and show ways to grow value ads and eco systems locally.

However, any investments in infrastructure is worth nothing unless there is a usage uptake, and only the uptake creates the value. The Internet uptake is a fundamental driver of growth and social development. It is able to improve healthcare, education and many more sectors, as well as the well-being of individuals. In fact, it touches everybody’s life. Cutting down latencies is an important first step towards improving the situation. Local peering, the exchange of Internet traffic locally, is necessary to improve local access conditions and this has to be valued and cherished by ISP communities. AfPIF is the forum where we meet the African ISP community, talk about challenges and opportunities, and share our knowledge for a better Internet experience in Africa.

Save the date: AfPIF-2017 from 22 – 24 August 2017 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

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

AfPIF-2017 from 22 – 24 August 2017 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Join us for 3 days of sharing, learning and networking at the 8th African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF)

An open and inclusive forum, AfPIF focuses on developing Internet interconnection and traffic exchange opportunities by bringing together key players – infrastructure providers, Internet service providers (ISPs), Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), content producers and providers, data center operators, policy-makers and regulators, to advance the peering ecosystem in Africa.

Why should you attend AfPIF-2017? Have a look through AfPIF-2016 website that contains the meeting report, briefs of presentations, emerging discussions, speakers and sponsors at:

More information about the event will be shared in the coming weeks.

Make sure you do not miss this premier peering event in Africa!