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Sep 07, 2012

€5.1m fund aims to support building of African Internet exchange points

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A€5.1-million fund will be available to facilitate the building of Internet exchange points (IXPs) in 30 African countries that do not have IXPs. Work in six countries will begin this month, continental bloc African Union Commis- sion Information Society division head Moctar Yedaly announced at the Internet Society African Peering and Interconnection Forum in August.

Senegal, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Niger, Namibia and Guinea have been selected as the first countries to benefit from the African Internet Exchange System (Axis) project that will start this month, while regional IXPs would be developed during next year.

The project aimed to build capacity in the 30 countries that do not have national IXPs through a series of 60 technical workshops to be hosted and supported by nonprofit organisation Internet Society. The goal was to build national IXPs in these countries and regional IXPs to promote easier Internet traffic exchange and a better experience for end-users on the continent, said Internet Society Regional Bureau for Africa director Dawit Bekele.

The exchange of African Internet traffic through international exchanges costs the continent about $600-million a year, most of which can be reduced by effective national and regional interconnectivity, peering and Internet traffic exchange, noted Yedaly.

“Each country will receive expert and best-practice advice from the Internet Society, as well as equipment to enable the establishment of IXPs in the country, should this be necessary,” he said.

This development was in line with the African Union (AU) Heads of State decision in 2010 to link major cities on the con- tinent to support economic growth and improve communications and information technology on the continent.

Further, the commission would encourage each country to take ownership of the IXPs, which was part of the reason Internet Society was selected to assist the countries in developing technical capacity, and it expected all 30 countries to have at least one national IXP by the end of 2015, said Yedaly.

“As countries establish their own IXPs, Internet traffic will be routed locally, creating a downward pressure on costs and stimulating the growth in, and the distribution of local Internet content. Through the Axis project, the interests of the AU will be realised in this collaborative effort to assist in the development of a more locally operated and, hence, more robust and economically accessible Pan-African Internet,” he concluded.

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
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