African Union Project Helps Set Up IXPs in Six African countries

Six African countries have set up Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), after two years of the Arfican Union’s African Internet Exchange System (AXIS) project, managed by the Internet Society.

Under the project, the Internet Society was to provide technical training to AU member countries. The initial engagement involved building a local stakeholder driven process to start the dialogue for countries without IXPs with an end goal of establishing a national IXP based on global best practices. The second part involved  initiating a regional process to support the growth of existing national IXPs and ISPs to become Regional IXPs (RIXPs) and Regional Internet carriers (RICs) respectively. Technical training was held in 28 countries, attracting more than 500 participants.

“This is the first major initiative in Africa that has utilised the multi-stakeholder approach towards the implementation of IXPs. Governments have played a facilitative role towards the establishment of IXPs in five countries launched in 2014 and are actively involved in the 3 preparing to be launched in 2015. As a result, there has been more IXPs launched in the last 12 months than in the 5 years before,” said Michuki Mwangi, Internet Society’s Senior Development Manager for Africa.

The new IXPs are in Namibia, Burundi, Swaziland, Gambia, Gabon and Seychelles  . Africa currently has 33 IXPs and according to Packet Clearing House (PCH), Africa’s domestic bandwidth production grew by 145 percent, from 113Gigabits in April last year to 277 Gigabits in April this year.

The engagement in countries involved bringing together government representatives, ISPs, content, research and education network operators, amongst others likely to be peering at the exchange. The countries also received, technical trainings that involved assessment of technical preparedness for networks expected to participate, discussion on benefits of setting up an IXP and benefits of getting Internet resources IP addresses and Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs) from AFRINIC.

“The five workshops at the regional level achieved their goal, which was to enhance interconnectivity within the region, encourage local content development and data localization by promoting investments in data hosting infrastructures and data centers as well as through cost-saving peering and content distribution mechanisms,” said the final report forwarded to the AU.

In terms of availability of technical experts in the area of IXPs, Africa is still considered lower than other regions, which means AXIS training has produced a high number of experts.

“The number of people trained and countries covered in the project was more than in the entire history of Africa and IXPs,” said Michuki Mwangi “Through the project we have developed a pool of subject matter experts in the African region. In addition, the process has enabled us to attach regional and international experts, to continue supporting the respective countries through their efforts to establish the IXP.”



AMS-IX and TESPOK end Mombasa Internet Exchange partnership

After one year of joint operations, Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX) and the Telecommunications Service Providers of Kenya (TESPOK) have terminated the agreement for operations at the Mombasa Internet Exchange, a Point of Presence (POP) based at the SEACOM landing station.

The decision to terminate the agreement was reached after the POP failed to attract more users to exchange content, commonly known as peers. Google, a Content Delivery Network (CDN) is currently peering in Mombasa, exchanging content with three other Kenyan networks.

“Since the exchange point went live in mid 2014 it has proved difficult to attract parties to participate in the exchange. This has led to the difficult decision to close the East Africa Exchange Point as of June 1st. This doesn’t mean that the development of the Internet infrastructure in East Africa has reached a standstill,” said a statement posted on AMS-IX website.

In response, TESPOK sent out a statement saying it had launched the Mombasa Internet Exchange Point in August 2009 at the SEACOM Landing station. The partnership with AMSIX was to support the growth of the already existing POP in Mombasa and add value to the region.

“This partnership has seen the location attract several international operators and at the same time brought to the fore some of the challenges of the set up in Mombasa,” said Fiona Asonga, TESPOK CEO.

In the statement, Asonga blamed the failure of the partnership on the challenges of set up in Mombasa, such as; lack of appropriate local government support for ICT infrastructure investment, absence of carrier neutral data centers in the region and the costs of transit between Nairobi and Mombasa to facilitate peering at both the Nairobi and Mombasa locations.

“TESPOK is determined and will continue to run Mombasa Internet Exchange Point as it had began in 2009 and with the standards it has used to operate  the Nairobi Kenya Internet Exchange Point POPs since 2002,” added Asonga.

On its part, AMS-IX promised to continue supporting peering and interconnection in Africa through forums such as Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) through sharing of knowledge and experience, and the provisioning of equipment to developing Internet exchanges.