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.

AfPIF is coming to Tanzania!

Today, the Internet Society announced in its press release that it is bringing, in partnership with the Tanzania Internet Service Providers Association (TISPA), its annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) to Tanzania. AfPIF-7 will take place in the country’s capital, Dar es Salaam from 30 August- 1 September 2016.

 

In a press conference marking the official announcement held today in Dar es Salaam, Michuki Mwangi, Senior Development Manager for Africa and Middle East, Internet Society, spoke to the various journalists present about AfPIF and the benefits it brings to the local community in building 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. The announcement was attended among others by Dr. Ali y. Simba, Director General of the Tanzania Communications Regulatory authority (TCRA) and Mr. Vinay Choudary, Chairman of TISPA.

The press conference was followed by a peering workshop attended by more than 18 network engineers and representatives from TISPA, Spicenet, UHURUONE, SATCOM Networks and other stakeholders in Tanzania. As part of the pre-events of AfPIF 2016, the peering workshop discussed issues such as:

  • Peering Best Practices
  • Peering and Transit Business Development
  • Advancing The Peering Ecosystem

Serving as a platform to expand Internet infrastructure and services across Africa, it is expected that AfPIF 2016 will bring together key players to address the opportunities in interconnection, peering and traffic exchange on the continent.

Join us in Tanzania and be part of the change we are bringing in how people think about connecting the net!

3 Numbers that explain the digital divide

Written by

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.

Author: Michael Kende, Chief Economist, Internet Society

Image: A smartphone apparatus is used for eye examinations at a temporary clinic west of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, October 29, 2013. REUTERS/Noor Khamis.

AfPIF 2015: Where Business in Africa Starts

The sixth African Peering and Interconnection Forum opened today. Sixth!

It’s a conference I’ve seen grow and change over the past six years into somewhat of a landmark event for those in Africa and working with Africa who focus on building the Internet in Africa.

So – while many technical experts, businesses leaders, content creators, and regional experts gather together for a sixth year – it strikes me as a great time really see how this conference – which started as a simple idea – has grown to become a pivotal backbone to the African economy and development.

A faster and cheaper Internet is key to African businesses

There are dozens of reports outlining the Internet’s potential for Africa and, thanks to some recent studies – there’s a clear progression in terms of how to do it.

But what needs to be said about all of this is one thing:

For Africa to profit from the Internet the Internet actually needs to be there, it needs to work, and it needs to work well.

The people who come to AfPIF are the ones who are making that happen.

Building Africa’s Business Backbone: It’s About People

What’s magic about AfPIF – truly magic – is what happens here between people. In comparison to much of the developed world – meeting one another, sharing ideas and building contacts isn’t as simple as it sounds. There are not many African forums where people can meet in an affordable environment. Many conferences are too expensive for most African professionals to attend. Travel isn’t always economically or practically feasible. In many ways working professionals exist in their own world without even knowing what is happening in the country next door.

This is why we started AfPIF:

  • Through fellowships we help key African Internet players overcome some key travel hurdles.
  • By broadcasting AfPIF over LiveStream (link). Anyone can take part from anywhere.
  • By moving the conference around to each of Africa’s regions we’re able to bring the conference TO the people who are trying to get there, and,
  • By keeping it open we remove a lot of the costly entrance fees that can be a barrier to so many.

Why Does It Work? It Wasn’t an Empty Promise

Just like the Internet we’re building – we kept AfPIF open. This means you don’t have to pay anything, you don’t need to know anyone, and you don’t need to wait for a long sought after invite to show up on your desk.

You just need to either be here in person, watch it online, share your ideas, and network. Just be a part of it.

The result is amazing. Imagine a room full of people with this amazing desire to learn – matched with an incredible desire to share. AfPIF’s camaraderie is unmatched.

We told people this was our vision, we delivered, and we kept it that way – after six years.

And, we see the impact. There are more IXPs in Africa, and more local traffic in Africa each year.

What’s the Result: Great Business Outcomes For Africa

In simple terms, “peering” is when Internet service providers (ISPs) connect with each other directly or at a central location (an IXP) to avoid sending traffic through expensive international Internet connections to connect with each other. This means ISPs can provide better performance using fewer resources. And, the rest of us have the potential to have faster and cheaper Internet.

But, when most peering relationships start with a handshake – we need a place to do that.

At AfPIF we gather together technical people, business leaders, and content providers, to build the personal relationships needed to make peering happen. Together, the plan is build, and change the African economy – one relationship at a time.

The Internet Society brings African interconnection conference to Mozambique

[Maputo, Mozambique- 27 February 2015] The Internet Society has partnered with the Eduardo Mondlane University Computing Centre (CIUEM) to bring the sixth annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) to Maputo, Mozambique from 25-27 August 2015. Designed to address the key challenges and opportunities in interconnection, peering and traffic exchange on the continent, the conference provides a platform to help grow Internet infrastructure and services across Africa.

Over the past five years, AfPIF has positively impacted the Internet interconnection and traffic exchange landscape in Africa through experience sharing, capacity building and business linkages. During this period, there has been a notable increase in investments and initiatives that have led to improvements in the extent and quality of national and regional interconnection.

“The Southern African region has demonstrated leadership in establishing national interconnection with over 70% of the countries in the region having an operational Internet Exchange Point (IXP) and I believe it has a lot of experience to share with the rest of Africa. For this reason, we are pleased to partner with CIUEM to organize the AfPIF-2015 event in Mozambique,” said Dawit Bekele, the Internet Society’s Regional Director for Africa.

“The establishment of the Mozambique Internet Exchange (MozIX) in 2002 was a result of a long and painful process, whereby some of the local ISPs were reluctant to join the initiative promoted by CIUEM, allegedly due to lack of trust. Today, we are glad to see that 16 major operators are already connected to the MozIX. Therefore, by hosting the AfPIF-2015 event in Mozambique, we’re also celebrating these small but meaningful steps in the history of the Internet in our Country,” said Francisco Mabila, the CIUEM Director.

AfPIF has previously been held in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Morocco and Senegal, with each event attracting more than 150 participants from more than 30 countries.

The Internet Society aims to advance the African interconnection agenda at AfPIF-2015, 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 the main peering and interconnection forum for Africa, promising more than just a forum – AfPIF provides an opportunity to advance peering and interconnection arrangements and to make a positive contribution to Africa’s Internet resources.

Read about last year’s event: AfPIF 2014 Report

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, hailu@isoc.org

About the Eduardo Mondlane University Computing Centre (CIUEM)

The Eduardo Mondlane University Computing Centre (CIUEM) was established in 1981, as a small technical unit, designed primarily for the provision of ICT related services and support, as well as, for advising and assisting the University management in ICT policies and strategies formulation and implementation. However, with the fast growing demand on IT services in the country, the Centre was soon challenged to also provide services to other entities outside the University.

In 1992, CIUEM has pioneered the first Internet connection in Mozambique, acting soon as the only ISP in the country until 1996. During the following years, it was involved in a number of initiatives, aiming at promoting awareness among the Government and civil society about the importance of ICT in general and the Internet in particular. As a result of those awareness campaigns, the Government approved the national ICT Policy and the Implementation strategy in 2000 and 2002 respectively, whereby CIUEM was involved in providing technical expertise and advice.

CIUEM is the “mz” top level domain administrator and since 2002 is running the Mozambique Internet Exchange (MozIX).

For more information, visit www.ciuem.mz

Media contact: Avelino Mondlane, mondlane@uem.mz