‘Internet Exchange Points Critical to Access, Connectivity’
A recent research report from the Internet Society, a non-profit organisation promoting the development and use of the internet has revealed that internet exchange points are critical to improving internet access and lowering connectivity costs across Africa.
The report titled: “Moving Towards an Interconnected Africa: the 80/20 Initiative,” which examined the Internet ecosystem in Africa, outlined the state of internet interconnection in Africa and the critical role Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) play in improving access and lowering costs.
The report called for urgent need to increase internet access across the continent, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Citing the statistics of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, which revealed that fewer than one in five households in Africa, have internet access, the report said a reliable and affordable internet access would fuel economic growth in Africa.
An IXP is technical infrastructure where multiple networks, including Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), enterprise networks, research and education networks, e-Government services, and content delivery networks (CDNs), come together to connect and exchange internet traffic.
IXPs enable the local exchange of Internet traffic instead of using expensive international transit routes.
This not only makes Internet access much more affordable but also improves the quality of access by providing more direct network connections. Access speeds for content can be up to 10 times faster with an IXP because traffic is routed locally via international transit routes.
According to the Internet Society report, the number of African IXPs has increased by 58 per cent over the past eight years, from 19 in 2012 to 46 in 2020. The report added that more than half of the countries in Africa have an IXP, six countries have more than one.
“The most developed internet ecosystem is in South Africa followed by Kenya and Nigeria. These countries have the most interconnected networks and have succeeded in exchanging 70-80 per cent of their traffic locally.
“IXPs provide significant savings by localising Internet traffic. The report shows that a network can save up to US240,0000 per year by connecting to a local IXP.
‘The presence of content de
livery networks has increased significantly and the amount of locally available content and demand for content hosting has increased,” the report stated.
The new report expanded on a 2020 analysis of IXP growth in Kenya and Nigeria and provides an overview of the evolution of internet interconnection on the continent by examining a country in each of the six sub-regions: Angola (Southern Africa), Burkina Faso (Western Africa), Democratic Republic of Congo (Central Africa), Egypt (Northern Africa), Mauritius (Indian Ocean), and Rwanda (Eastern Africa).
Analysing the report, Africa Regional Vice President for the Internet Society, Dawit Bekele, said: “Thanks to the continued work with partners over the years, we have many more sustainable IXPs that exchange a considerable amount of Internet traffic in Africa. But there’s still work to do to ensure that more Internet traffic is exchanged on the continent.”