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Welcome to the new AfPIF website!

Greetings! Welcome to the new AfPIF website! As part of the redesign of the Internet Society’s new website, we decided to give AfPIF it’s own separate online presence.  We still do have some work to do, including:

  • Migrating the French versions of past sites.
  • Migrating over the “news” blog posts from past years.
  • Setting up the TLS certificate so the site can be reached over HTTPS.
  • Integrating some of the social media accounts and information.

More changes will be on the way! But in the meantime we are pleased to be able to offer you this new way to learn about AfPIF!

Internet Society Work in Africa

Africa Highlights

Regional Context:

Download: Average price per GB of traffic in Sub-Saharan Africa

Since the year 2000 Africa has been laying the groundwork to become a major player in today’s information age. In the past decade, online access has quadrupled and cell-phone usage has increased tenfold – making it one of the fasting growing regions in the online world.

While improved access to the Internet represents huge potential for Africa’s economic, political and cultural future, these numbers still only represent a fraction of Africa’s population.

Why should the world worry about this digital divide? Many economists think, with the right tools, this could be Africa’s century.

It’s becoming less and less of a well-kept secret that Africa is in the midst of a profound transformation. Since 2004 economic growth has grown steadily at 6%. Internationally the continent is also opening itself up to global and local trade, proving that even when most of the world is in a financial crisis, Africa can remain open for business.

Almost 15 years ago, experts at the Internet Society outlined how the Internet has a lot to offer emerging economies – everything from software and education, to boosting handicrafts and human rights. But without a progressive Internet environment, cyberspace will continue to exacerbate the digital divide between North and South, urban and rural, and English-speaking and non-English-speaking parts of the world.

Increased access to the Internet and the web also means political change. Africa rattled the walls of the online world when citizens of Tunisia and Egypt used the Internet as one of the main tools to challenge tradition and change the rules. We also saw a global outcry when a medium that fundamentally supports opportunity, empowerment, knowledge, growth, and freedom was taken away.

While social media is a fact of life for many of us, Africa was one of the first areas in the world where regular citizens, activists, nongovernmental organizations, and business people demonstrated the freedom of speech these online tools can give. It was, and is, history in the making.

By lending their voice to the online world, Africa will not only help bring its economic growth to a world in the midst of change but also its rich voice to a global tool that has been built for users, by  users.

How We Work:

The Regional Bureau in Africa acts as an advisor to other Internet Society departments on issues affecting our work. Its also provides critical insight on local business, technology and policy issues to the Internet Society and its stakeholders.

The Bureau also work with Chapters to grow individual memberships, support their initiatives and help them advance in their support of the Internet Society’s mission and values. This includes the focus on building trust and providing transparent guidance for Chapters and helping each Chapter develop strong projects.

We Focus On:

Education – Through a number of programmes we help local communities, neighbourhoods, and villages build their skills to access and develop the Internet and the World Wide Web.

Cybersecurity – While improved access to the Internet is a great economic opportunity for Africa, it also means it is becoming increasingly vulnerable to threats such as viruses, hackers, and malicious spam.

Mobile – While Africa is one of the leading countries in terms of mobile Internet – access to the network that supports it (known as the Global System for Mobile Technology, or “GSM”) remains a challenge.

Cost – Africa has some of the highest prices in the world when it comes to online connection. Why? Many of its countries are simply not connected. This means if you lived in Accra, Ghana and wanted to send an e-mail to a friend in Nairobi, Kenya, your message might have to travel to France before it can make its way Kenya. This means higher costs and service that can be slow and unpredictable.

Policy – We work to help make sure public laws at the local, national, regional, and international level are developed to help support the development of an open and user defined Internet.

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).

3 Numbers that explain the digital divide

Written by Michael Kende

Thanks to the growth of the mobile internet, there are now three numbers that are relevant to the global digital divide – 94, 50 and 36. All three are amazing, and underlie a new way to approach the digital divide that focuses on availability, affordability and relevance.

  • 94% of the world’s population can receive a mobile telephone signal, which represents growth that almost no one could have predicted 15 years ago.
  • 50% of the world’s population can receive a mobile internet signal, because a mobile network can be upgraded to offer internet with far less investment than building the original network.
  • 36% of the population has subscribed to the mobile internet, from a standing start just six or seven years ago, thanks to the widespread availability of and access to smartphones with millions of apps.

These numbers mask significant regional variation, of course. In developed Asia Pacific, 99% of the population has a 3G signal, and 109% have subscribed (some people have multiple subscriptions). On the other hand, in sub-Saharan Africa, where 82% of the population has a mobile signal, 35% have a 3G signal, and so far only 11% have subscribed to mobile internet.

The common thread in all regions is that availability of the internet is no longer the limiting factor – mobile internet is always available to more than those who have adopted it, and can grow relatively easily to cover the entire mobile network if needed.

The key question should be why potential users who could access a service have not done so. For instance, in sub-Saharan Africa, why have only a third of those who could access 3G taken advantage of its availability?

The answer has two parts. First, of course, affordability is a key issue: in some countries, broadband still costs 10% or more of average monthly income and is thus out of range for most. Second, though, is relevance. Is there content available in the local language? Is it of interest? Useful? If the answer to these questions is no, then chances are many who could afford internet access will spend their time and money elsewhere.

In many countries, relevance is now the most significant issue. For instance, in a recent survey in Brazil, subjects were asked to give one or more reason why they had not used the internet. Of the respondents, 25% indicated availability as a reason; 26% indicated cost; while 70% indicated it was a “lack of need or interest”.

So what can be done to help regions clear these final barriers and fully embrace the internet and its advantages?

Of course, everyone would benefit from lower costs – not just those who aren’t online today – and governments can help by removing any barriers to connectivity, such as high costs for deploying infrastructure, and high taxes on equipment, devices and services that act to depress demand.

However, at least as importantly, increasing the amount of content in the local language, with relevance to local needs, is critical. Governments can help promote content creation by developing their own mobile services, hosting them locally and promoting capacity-building to support these activities. Governments can also encourage the private creation of content by removing vague or restrictive laws with respect to content and liability.

As we collectively celebrate the amazing numbers already achieved by the mobile internet in closing the digital divide, we should also work hard together to make sure the remaining challenges are met so that existing and new users enjoy a mobile internet that delivers the hope and promise the internet can bring to everyone.

For a broader discussion of these issues, please check out the Internet Society’s Global Internet Report 2015 which delves deeper into mobile’s impact on the digital divide and a host of other issues related to the mobile internet, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2015.

Have you read?
How is mobile changing the world economy?
Which countries have more internet connections than people?
How better connectivity can transform Africa’s economies.

Registration for AfPIF 2015 is Open!

Join us in Maputo, Mozambique for the 6th AfPIF Conference 25-27th August 2015. Don’t miss the premier peering event in Africa.

AfPIF attracts ISP’s, content providers, governments an IXP’s for three days of learning, sharing and building business in Africa.

Why should you attend AfPIF-2015? Have a look through AfPIF-2014 report that contains briefs of presentations, emerging discussions, speakers and sponsors.

Interested in giving a presentation or participating in any of our discussion panels – submit your proposal to the program committee based on the AfPIf-2015 Theme and agenda.

Sponsorship opportunities are available to promote your business to these key audiences – find out sponsoring AfPIF here.

Register now to secure your place – and remember to check your visa requirements for travel to Mozambique.