South Africa’s ISPA: A leading advocate for the African web

News that the Internet Society and African IXP Association (AFIX) are set to hold the 9th annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) during iWeek in Cape Town in August has seen increased interest in South Africa’s leading Internet industry conference and its founder, ISPA.

ISPA (the Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa) has emerged as a leading advocate for South African and African Internet industry liberalisation. In fact, it was out of a desire to level the monopolised local telecommunications playing field of the 1990s that ISPA was formed.

On 6 June 1996, nine South African pioneering Internet Service Providers (ISPs) got together and decided the formation of ISPA was critical if the country’s underperforming telecoms sector was to flourish. Barriers to competition had to be broken down with urgency and ISPA was the vehicle to do it. Telkom, the state-controlled ICT entity, enjoyed a monopoly over key telecoms services and this was threatening to undo many of the early gains realised during South Africa’s transition to democracy.

Things moved along swiftly following the Association’s formation. ISPA helped influence and shape telecommunications policy in SA and launched competition complaints against Telkom which have redefined the competitive landscape for communications in South Africa. In total, during the last two decades, ISPA has weathered three regulatory authorities, eight telecommunications ministers and three major overhauls of the legislative framework governing communications services.

However, ISPA’s most important Internet advocacy activities have not been limited to the regulatory and legislative spheres. Its founding year of 1996 saw ISPA members establish the Johannesburg Internet Exchange (JINX), an African first and the forerunner of the many INXes that exist today in SA and on the continent. Today JINX (Johannesburg Internet Exchange), CINX (Cape Town Internet Exchange) and DINX (Durban Internet Exchange) offer multisite peering opportunities helping to keep South African internet traffic local and thereby reducing the costs to communicate.

The year 2000 saw the launch of ISPA’s Teachers’ Training program that will again feature during 2018’s iWeek. This initiative was launched to provide computer and Internet literacy to South African teachers from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The very first iWeek was hosted in 2001 by ISPA and UniForum SA (today, ZACR) and ISPA formally looked to the continent for the first time by becoming a founder member of AfrISPA that same year.

As the Internet industry has matured, ISPA has increasingly played a role in ensuring that consumers receive reliable and reputable services from members. Its Code of Conduct plays a leading role in this regard. The iWeek conference that ISPA has co-hosted annually since 2001 is another primary example of ISPA activities going beyond the original mandate of the Association in pursuit of the greater good of the SA and African ICT sector.

ISPA is always on the lookout for ways to enhance its effectiveness. In 2009, ISPA was officially recognised as an Industry Representative Body (IRB) by the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services.

In June 2016, ISPA transitioned from a voluntary association to an incorporated Non-Profit Company, with a Board of Directors elected directly by ISPA’s members. Today, ISPA membership is open to any organisation providing Internet access or related services in South Africa. While the majority of ISPA’s members are commercial operators, membership is open to non-profit organisations, and ISPA counts universities, schools’ networks, parastatals and wireless user groups amongst its members.

Internet Society and African IXP Association Partner with South Africa’s Internet Service Providers’ Association for AfPIF at iWeek

Johannesburg, South Africa -5 March 2018 – The Internet Society and African IXP Association (AFIX) have announced that they will hold the 9th annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) in Cape Town, South Africa hosted by the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA). The conference will be held from 21-23 of August 2018 in conjunction with iWeek, South Africa’s leading Internet industry conference, which will run from 20-24 August 2018.

AfPIF is an annual event that serves as a platform to expand and develop the African Internet. It connects infrastructure, service, and content providers with policymakers in order to identify and discuss ways to improve network interconnection, lower the cost of connectivity, and increase the number of users in the region. Over 200 participants attended last year’s AfPIF in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire including providers of international, regional, and sub-regional transport, transit, and content as well as more than 20 IXPs from Africa and beyond.

This year’s event will be hosted in South Africa; home to the oldest Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in Africa, the highest density of IXP’s per city in Africa, and the largest carrier neutral data center in Africa. As a thriving terrestrial infrastructure market and the continent’s most mature peering ecosystem, South Africa will provide a unique opportunity for attendees to learn from its remarkable experiences and explore a growing number of opportunities in the region.

“The African IXP Association has been absolutely amazed by South Africa’s rapid development and is proud to host this year’s AfPIF in Cape Town. We all benefit from their innovation and continued success, and hope that our collective presence will provide additional momentum” said Kyle Spencer, Co-Coordinator of the African IXP Association.

“We are delighted to be hosting AfPIF at iWeek for the very first time. This is a fantastic example of the kind of pan-African ICT cooperation envisioned by the Abuja and OR Tambo declarations of the 1990s,” said ISPA Chair, Graham Beneke.

“The first AfPIF was held in 2010 by the Internet Society from the realization that most of African Internet traffic is exchanged outside the continent, and the region could save costs by exchanging the Internet traffic locally. The target is to have at least 80% of the Internet traffic consumed in Africa being locally accessible, and only 20% sourced outside the continent by the year 2020. We are getting closer to that target every year thanks to AfPIF and many activities that promote interconnection and hosting in Africa”, says Dawit Bekele, Regional Bureau Director for Africa at Internet Society.

Internet Peering is a business relationship whereby two network operators agree to provide access to each other’s network at no cost. Internet users throughout Africa benefit from Peering as it enables faster, more affordable, and more reliable access to content.

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). For more information visit www.internetsociety.org.

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 ISPA
ISPA NPC is a non-profit company, and a recognized industry body which has represented the interests of ISPs since 1996. ISPA has co-hosted the annual iWeek industry conference since 2001, bringing together business, government, civil society and members of the public to debate technical, policy and business matters relating to the Internet sector in South Africa. ISPA works with many different partners to ensure that iWeek includes fresh and relevant content each year and is thrilled to be hosting AfPIF during iWeek this year. For more on the association visit www.ispa.org.za

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

Elaine Zinn
ISPA
Elaine@ff.co.za

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.

MainOne: An enabler of ICT innovation in West Africa

MainOne 

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, Wifi.com.ng, 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, 440.ng, 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); marco.brandstaetter@de-cix.net; +43 676 5185 027
Benjamin Deveaux (Workonline); benjamind@workonline.co.za; +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 iColo.io 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.