Rack Centre to expand capacity to 1.5 MW on a trajectory to over 10MW

Rack Centre, one of Africa’s top carrier neutral facilities, is expanding its power capacity to 1.5MW, as the company moves steadily towards over 10MW of power capacity over multiple locations.

Rack Centre has rapidly grown since its establishment in 2013 with a capacity of 350kW, which has grown to the current 750kW as the company grows its service offerings, ensuring reliability 24 hours a day.

Nigeria has had a bad perception with power outage, but Rack Centre boasts of 100 percent service availability since the company went live in 2013, a critical success factor for any company providing carrier neutral data center services.

“We have operated without one second of downtime since our launch in 2013,” said Ayotunde Coker, Rack Centre Managing Director.

In addition to African and Nigerian awards, Rack Centre has received numerous recognitions abroad for its uptime record and track record of exemplary customer satisfaction, including recognition at the DCD Awards in the UK, Datacloud Awards in Monaco, and the Global Carrier Awards at Capacity Europe in London.   Furthermore, the company boasts of being the first commercial company in Sub Saharan Africa to be Tier III Constructed Facility certified by the Uptime Institute. The MD of Rack Centre was awarded the Africa Trailblazer Award by the Uptime Institute in 2018.

“Power availability is a key challenge; however, we also turn that into an advantage. We are power experts and a unique value proposition to customers who do not have steady power for IT infrastructure,” Ayotunde added.

Ayotunde also noted that Rack Center is passionate about lifting startups into complex level businesses through the company’s partnership and incubation network.

“We are creating the future, so unlikely people have all the experience we require.  In Nigeria, we have fantastic available raw talent, so it comes down to leadership context to deliver the best of the raw material which we do at Rack Centre.  The key differentiator is leadership context, vision and delivery excellence, all of which we focus on at Rack Centre,” Ayotunde noted.

The Rack Centre neutral carrier ecosystem comprises carriers such as Orange and other international carriers such as WIOCC and BringCom. Rack Centre has 5 undersea cables servicing the Atlantic Coast of Africa and the cables are directly connected and can be accessed through at least 12 different carriers of over 36 carriers resident at the facility.

CMC Networks Partners with Teraco

Telecommunications carrier CMC Networks and Teraco have collaborated to improve connectivity and increase the percentage of content hosted within the continent.

Teraco is one of the largest carrier and cloud neutral data centers in Africa, and in this partnership, CMC Networks will tap into Teraco’s Africa Cloud Exchange so as to provide a direct connection within the continent, without the need for international transit.

Local content exchange has remained low in Africa, with most people preferring to host internationally. The Internet Society has engaged local internet communities with the vision of increasing local content hosting to 80 percent.

Europe and the US have been cited as favorable hosting destinations with people citing Africa’s unreliable power, lack of hosting providers and poor intercity connectivity as part of the reasons for hosting abroad.

The partnership between Teraco and CMC will increase the percentage of content hosted within the continent and smoothen intercountry content exchange, without the need for international transit.

“By providing the essential building blocks, the Africa Cloud Exchange greatly assists us to provide our customers with the most direct and best possible cloud experience across the continent with stringent service levels to suit,” said Marisa Trisolino, CEO, CMC Networks.

Teraco has data centers in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, which have more than 5000 cabinets connecting over 50 African countries. Teraco says it is serving more than 400 of Africa’s growing companies, and this partnership is expected to make communication easier between the countries.

“We believe the nature of the Africa Cloud Exchange will encourage and lead to increased cloud innovation. It is an outstanding platform and will support us to achieve our strategic cloud objective, which centers on solving cross-border cloud connectivity problems throughout Africa,” Trisolino added.

Andrew Owens, peering and interconnection specialist at Teraco says Multi Cloud Connect will offer a better cloud experience to users by reducing network latency, scaling on demand, and ultimately lowering network costs.

“We empower our carrier communities to do more in the cloud by providing secure, direct, flexible network connections to a wide range of local and global cloud service providers,” Owens said.


Image credit: Thomas Jensen on Unsplash

RICTA to Host Af-IX Secretariat

The African IXP Association (Af-IX) has inked an agreement with the Rwanda Internet Community and Technology Alliance (RICTA) towards establishment of a secretariat in Kigali, the Rwandan capital.

Af-IX, which provides support to Africa’s Internet Exchange Points, has partnered with the Internet Society as it moves towards developing its presence around the continent by expanding its governance and administrative capacity.

Describing the agreement with RICTA, Kyle Spencer, Co-Coordinator of the African IXP Association said:  “It clearly reflects our industry’s extraordinary growth and our community’s strong spirit of cooperation. We look forward to working with RICTA on this project. They have proven expertise that is complemented by Rwanda’s central geographic location, business friendly market environment, and fluency in multiple regional languages.

RICTA has also expressed excitement and optimism over this new agreement.

I am convinced that establishing the AF-IX secretariat is a great achievement to develop, strengthen and improve the IXP community in Africa. RICTA, an active AFIX member, is committed to go an additional mile in its contribution and provide a strong administrative secretariat that will offer an enabling environment for Internet Exchange operators in Africa,” said Grace Ingabire, Ag CEO of RICTA.

The Internet Society has affirmed its support towards the agreement which is a milestone towards keeping African network traffic localized.

This is a major milestone for Af-IX to create a truly interconnected Africa. RICTA is an excellent choice to host the administrative office since, throughout the years; it has shown its commitment to promoting IXPs around Africa. The Internet Society will continue to support Af-IX and RICTA to make sure that no local Internet traffic has to leave Africa,” said Dawit Bekele, Africa Regional Bureau Director at the Internet Society.


Image credit: Dr Antoine R. Gasasira via Wikimedia Commons

SEACOM sets up 8 POPs, targets more clients

Internet provider SEACOM has scaled its regional presence in Africa upwards, adding eight new points of presence across the continent. This move is expected to enable more African businesses to connect to cloud facilities and data centers across the world, such as Microsoft Azure data centers in South Africa.

One new point of presence is Mombasa’s iColo data centre, which is the first fully open data centre in Kenya – any network operator or business can take advantage of the limitless network and data support solutions that the facility has to offer such as premium IP/MPLS.

SEACOM says it in the process of setting up more open access data centres in the East African capitals of Nairobi and Kampala. These facilities are expected to increase competition among carriers and mobile network operators (MNOs) with the end data/network user standing to reap the benefits of lowered costs and improved connection speeds of up to 100 mbps and 100gbps, speeds that SEACOM’s infrastructure has already achieved.

SEACOM is also establishing a new point of presence in South Africa with Teraco.

 “This new facility is a key location, catering specifically to content providers and enterprise customers. It will also serve as an important data recovery site for many operators,” Robert Marston, Global Head of Product at SEACOM said in a statement.

SEACOM recently acquired South Africa’s Fibre Co Telecommunications as part of its expansion strategy. SEACOM also covers crucial Europe exchange points such as London, Frankfort, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Marseille, as well as Mumbai in Asia.

The moves that SEACOM is making to improve our infrastructure on the continent will benefit African companies with greater high-speed, reliable and secure connectivity to cloud services and other online tools. One of our major objectives is to add simplicity to cloud migrations wherever possible,” Marston added.


Image credit: Wendy Brooks on Unsplash

Registration for AfPIF 2019 Now Open!

Join us in Balaclava, Mauritius for the 10th Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) from 20-22 August 2019.

AfPIF attracts ISPs, content providers, governments, and IXPs for three days of learning, sharing, and building business in Africa.

Why should you attend AfPIF-2019? Have a look through the AfPIF 2018 Summary Report, which contains briefs of presentations, emerging discussions, speakers, and sponsors.

Sponsorship opportunities are available to promote your business to these key audiences. Find out more about these opportunities here: https://www.afpif.org/afpif-10/sponsorship-brochure/

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

Don’t miss Africa’s premier peering event – celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year!

10th Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum to Be Held in Mauritius

Port Louis, Mauritius – 7 February, 2019 – The Internet Society and African IXP Association (AFIX) have announced that they will hold the 10th annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) in Port Louis, Mauritius from 20-22 August, 2019 in collaboration with the local host, Rogers Capital.

AfPIF is an annual event that serves as a platform to develop the African Internet. It brings key infrastructure, service, and content providers together in order to improve network interconnection, lower the cost of connectivity, and increase the number of users in the region. First held in 2010, the event was created to address the realization that most of Africa’s Internet traffic is sourced or exchanged outside the continent.

Over 400 participants attended last year’s AfPIF in Cape Town, South Africa including providers of international, regional, and sub-regional transport, transit, and content as well as more than 20 Internet Exchange Point (IXP) operators. This year’s attendance is expected to exceed that.

“Removing barriers to content availability and distribution will have significant impacts on the Internet in Africa. It will help to make existing international content more accessible,” explained Michuki Mwangi, Senior Development Manager for Africa at the Internet Society. “AfPIF is the only event in Africa focused on building the Internet by building relationships. It plays a key role in bringing together different parties to increase local traffic exchange across the continent,” he added.

Kyle Spencer, Co-Coordinator of the African IXP Association said “our target is to localize 80% of Africa’s Internet traffic by 2020, and I believe we’re well on our way. Packet Clearing House reports that Africa currently sees the highest growth of domestic bandwidth production in the world, registering a 92% increase from 410 Gbps to 786 Gbps within the last 12 months — and our internal industry benchmarking data corroborates this. It’s an exciting time for Africa, and we look forward to building on this momentum in Mauritius.”

“We are pleased to host AFPIF 2019 in Mauritius especially with the special privilege that this year’s event will coincide with the celebration of its 10 years of existence. As a diversified and sophisticated business hub for the region, we believe Mauritius may help open new business perspectives for the AFPIF delegates. We are looking forward to welcoming the delegates in August 2019 and to providing our support for the development of Internet Infrastructure in Africa,” said Dev Hurkoo, Managing Director, Rogers Capital-Technology.

About the Internet Society
Founded by Internet pioneers, the Internet Society (ISOC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet. Working through a global community of chapters and members, the Internet Society collaborates with a broad range of groups to promote the technologies that keep the Internet safe and secure, and advocates for policies that enable universal access. The Internet Society is also the organizational home of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

About AF-IX
The African IXP Association (AFIX) is a group of Internet exchange point operators from across Africa, brought together by a shared need to coordinate and exchange knowledge. It aims to foster an enabling environment for IXP operators, improve connectivity within the continent, and increase the Internet’s value for all. AFIX was established in 2012, joined the Internet eXchange Federation (IX-F) in 2014, and now organizes the annual African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF).

About Rogers Capital
Rogers Capital is a well-established FinTech company in Mauritius and is a subsidiary of Rogers Group, one of the largest conglomerate listed on the SEM 10 on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius. Rogers Capital is a leading Mauritian provider of fiduciary, technology and financial services. Its Technology arm, is a leading Infocom solutions provider in Mauritius & the Indian Ocean region with a multi skilled workforce of 125 ICT Professionals and with an ISO/IEC 27001 certified Data Centre.

Media Contact:
Betel Hailu
Internet Society
hailu@isoc.org

AfPIF 2018 Day Three: Cloud Infrastructure, Local Content, and More

The growth of cloud infrastructure in Africa has been credited with the growth of local content in many regions, and it holds the key for Africa’s ability to attract content carriers and distribution networks.

The first panel of day three at the Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) was dedicated to discussing the current scenario of cloud infrastructure and what it will take to grow the sector further, get the market interested, and eventually grow the level of content hosted locally.

South Africa has the most extensive cloud market, compared to other African countries, and it took concerted efforts from the different players, under the ISP Association, for the market to be deregulated and the laws to be put in place. The laws can take time, but industry players agree the laws are vital to investments in the market.

Although the industry may be small in Africa, cybersecurity is key, as businesses are susceptible to cybercrime, just like other global operators. That means the enactment of cyber security laws in the different countries, and continued training and awareness by industry players.

Power and cooling is another vital part, with many countries enjoying monopoly of power distribution. Liquid Telecom said it has had extensive discussions with the power company in South Africa as it seeks to set up carrier-neutral data centers in South Africa, similar to East Africa Data Centers in Kenya. This will be a different company operating the data centers, just like EADC is separate from Liquid in Kenya.

In discussions with the power companies, Liquid challenges them to evaluate the importance of power stability and availability as a determining factor for international companies determining whether to set up data centers in a particular country or not.

Pricing is key for the market, for enterprises to shift from hosting abroad to local the cost must make sense. If the cost is the same when hosting locally, compared to U.S. or European companies, companies will make the right decisions. The pricing also has to be accompanied by stable power and cooling, well-trained engineers and overall security and privacy.

The debate of Over The Top (OTT) services has gained momentum in Africa for the last two years, as disruptive services like WhatsApp, Uber, AirBnB, and Netflix among others have entered the markets.

The debate is on whether these services should be taxed or not, whether they should be licensed like traditional services or not, and whether governments and ICT industry operators should go back to the drawing board and come up with a new way of operating that doesn’t kill the existing market while at the same time promoting innovation.

A study by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Union found that OTT services had led to a rise in bandwidth usage and growth in infrastructure, with operators expanding 3G and 4G coverage to meet the growing demand.

The majority of African governments are grappling with how to handle Internet services, as online advertising revenues continue growing compared to traditional advertising. Most of them are looking for ways to get new tax revenue sources and at the same time grow the economy.

The research was presented at the 5th council of African regulators in Lome, Togo in July this year, and is expected to form the basis of conversations with the government, network operators, OTTs, and the public.

AfPIF 2019 will be in Mauritius, voted the best place for doing business and most competitive economy in Africa by the World Economic Forum’s Annual Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018.

AfPIF 2018 Day Two: Connecting Cape Town to Cairo

Africa’s dream of Cape Town to Cairo fiber connectivity has moved closer, with Liquid Telecom announcing that it has made considerable progress is signing agreements with regulatory authorities and partners within the route.

Liquid Telecom has an ambitious plan of reducing latencies in connectivity between Cape Town and Cairo. Currently, traffic is routed through Europe, with latencies of 209ms, and it will be reduced to 97ms.

In his keynote speech at the Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF), Ben Roberts, Liquid CTO, said that the project will be implemented through existing Liquid infrastructure within different countries, partnership with existing infrastructure providers, and regulators. The project is expected to be done by 2020 and to eventually connect East and West Africa.

Liquid is expecting the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, signed and ratified recently, to drive city-to-city interconnectivity, as more countries look for ways to trade with each other and eventually exchange Internet traffic. The goal to increase intra-Africa broadband traffic.

Roberts projects the infrastructure currently being set up will be highly used by the youth, who have grown up online – through education, social media, and gaming applications. The Internet of Things is expected to grow; currently most of IoT deployments are in South Africa, but it is expected to grow in areas such as health, agriculture, smart cities, transport, and logistics.

Cloud infrastructure, combined with IoT is expected to drive utilities, water, sewerage, health, agriculture, smart cities, transport, and financial services.

Growth in data centers and cloud infrastructure has been key to growth in content and fall in connectivity costs. Most content carriers and distributors depend on the data center growth to determine whether to enter the market or not.

Michele McCann from Teraco presented about the growth of their data center space, highlighting the factors they consider before deciding whether to enter a market. Teraco currently has more that 350 AS numbers represented at their facilities and they are growing every month.

Teraco started with networks building structured cabling between each other and peering, cloud services were built and as power and cooling became more reliable, content providers and distributors, financial, and enterprise markets set up services. One of the smaller South African banks was able to gain significant market ground as it focused on its online strategy instead of the traditional brick and mortar approach.

What trends will drive data center growth? Moving content closer to users is driving CDNs to move into Africa, accelerated migration to the cloud as companies look to reduce capital expenditure, lower connectivity costs, growth in online services, and availability of peering.

Availability of statistics has improved over the years, with Telegeography presenting its data on Africa’s traffic trends and pricing. This year, Africa’s Internet grew by 45% while in Sub Saharan Africa, it grew by 40%, compared to 72% last year.

Telegeography measures international traffic, so if there was an increase in local traffic, it is not likely to reflect on the Telegeography statistics. The goal of AfPIF is for local traffic to be exchanged locally, however, 82% of capacity from Africa is still going through Europe.

It is projected that as latencies fall, more CDNs will be attracted to Africa and in areas like Latin America. CDNs have ended up investing in four submarine cables, as they seek to lower connectivity costs and reach more users.

Watch the Livestream of AfPIF 2018!

AfPIF 2018 Kicks Off

The ninth edition of Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) kicked off today, with more than 400 tech executive in attendance.

This year, the forum was organized and held jointly with iWeek- South Africa ISP Association’s premier tech event. The event is underway at the Cape Town International Convention Center.

This year’s event is dubbed AfPIF@iWeek has attracted tech executives, chief technology officers, peering coordinators and business development managers, Internet service providers and operators, telecommunications policymakers and regulators, content providers, Internet Exchange Point (IXP) operators, infrastructure providers, data center managers, National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), carriers, and transit providers.

The sessions started with an introduction by Nishal Goburdhan, a veteran of AfPIF, who traced the history of AfPIF, from its conception to the community event it is. The community took over the program three years ago, determining the speakers and the conference content.

How can you take advantage of AfPIF? Nishal suggested that the participants use peering personals sessions; this is like speed dating for networks – members give details of their AS numbers, where they peer, peering policy, contact information, and explain why other participants should peer with them. At the end of every session, participants get a chance to introduce themselves.

The meeting tool allows participants to book meetings with other people and there are long breaks in the schedule, meant to facilitate the meetings. There are six half-hour breaks and 90-minute lunch sessions to allow continuation of discussions.

For the last nine years, it has been clear that most peering agreements are done through a handshake and social sessions. The sessions are meant to facilitate these kind of discussions.

How to start an IXP and how to grow an existing one are probably the major questions for Africa’s tech community. Solène Souquet, from Asteroid International, made a presentation on “the big case for a small IXP,” noting that one doesn’t need a big budget to set up an IXP.

The most important part is a vibrant local community, a gigabit infrastructure that is scalable, 20 or 30 customer ports, website, route server, central location with good connectivity options, and a content carrier as among the peers.

Netflix is one of the major global content carriers and has recently established POPs in Africa and is planning to grow. During the peering and transit tutorial, Netflix explained the different consideration in traffic routing. When accessing Netflix, traffic is routed to the closest server, which facilitates faster response time.

One of the major issues that ISPs have with Netflix is blocking of IPs that are found to have flouted the rules, especially using VPNs to access the content. Netflix says that content is geographically licensed and they provide it depending on what the region prefers to watch. In cases of blockage, Netflix encourages ISPs to reach out and resolve the matter with their teams.

The last session was on inter-city traffic latencies, and it shows that the latencies are falling, as the region continues to interconnect more-and-more cities. The study showed that the median latencies are at 250ms.

The study was conducted in collaboration with the University of Cape Town and AFRINIC. It used Ookla and speedcheker to measure the latencies, 723 probes in 100 cities, 43 countries, and 271 servers.

Northern has lowest city-to-city median delay compared to other regions. Kigali was noted to have high latencies but the team couldn’t explain, but promised to continue investigating.

Watch the Livestream of AfPIF 2018!

Welcome to AfPIF and iWeek 2018!

A comprehensive view of Africa’s Internet peering and interconnection ecosystem from the region’s top networks and experts, opportunities to strengthen and build new peering relationships with over 300 attendees using an open to all “bilateral meeting” scheduling tool, insightful presentations, studies and reports delivered by a strong lineup of speakers, and a technical village are some of the interesting activities that participants to iWeek/AfPIF 2018 can expect.

The sessions have been spiced up to include a technical village, with vendors offering masterclasses, a super teachers award honoring Africa’s tech teachers, and a beers for peers session, to allow participants to network more.

“This year’s agenda reflects the growing interests from our rapidly evolving regional industry with an increased focus on regional networks, carrier-neutral data centers, cloud services, and regulation in addition to our traditional line-up of quality technical content,” said Kyle Spencer, Co-Coordinator of the African IXP Association.

This year, the Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) joined hands with the South Africa ISP Association to hold sessions during iWeek. This provides extensive training sessions and opportunities for participants.

“Participants will have opportunities to meet with industry leaders to discuss one on one or in groups the various issues around both networking and content in Africa. Bilaterals are always great to discuss one on one about peering,” said Malcom Siegel, Chairperson, ISP Association in South Africa.

In the last eight years, AfPIF has established itself as the place to be for techies, regulators, and businesses engaging in the rapidly-developing Internet ecosystem. For new entrants into Africa, AfPIF has been a good place to meet major players and engage in bilateral negotiations, which have resulted in increased interconnectivity within the region.

“We have a particularly strong line-up of speakers this year including representatives from Africa and beyond, including Liquid Telecom, Teraco, Amazon, Facebook, Cloudflare, Netflix, TeleGeography, Hurricane Electric, Internet Solutions, and Asteroid, among others,” added Spencer, who is also the Executive Director of the Uganda Internet Exchange Point.

Teaching has been a major component and this year it will not be any different; participants can expect to gain more knowledge and take advantage of the wealth of experience among other participants.

“We have a technical village with vendors who will be giving masterclasses; we also have a training program designed with Africa in mind and will give delegates short 45-50 minute sessions on topics relevant to peering and content delivery,” said Siegel.

Regional interconnection is still a major issue; the continent is striving to interconnect more, and Spencer sees an opportunity to discuss the explosive growth seen in South Africa and how it is impacting growth in the rest of the continent.

After the conference, the organizers encourage participants to experience life in Cape Town and South Africa, if possible.

“Cape Town, South Africa is easily one of the world’s most beautiful, entertaining, and affordable tourist destinations; it has a stunning mountainous coastline; an unusually high density of excellent bars and restaurants; and is immediately adjacent to one of the world’s finest wine-growing regions. Our AfPIF social events and gala dinner will reflect this, of course, but I strongly encourage everyone to stay the following weekend in order to experience all that the area has to offer,” concluded Spencer.

Have a great week ahead!!

Watch the Livestream of AfPIF 2018!