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Internet peering and Africa’s Internet transit deficit take center stage at AfPIF

August 28, 2012  »  Broadband & BusinessNo Comment

Last week, the Internet Society, with the aid of 15 sponsors, hosted the 3rd Annual African Peering Interconnection Forum. The event, held at the Hilton Sandton Hotel, South Africa (complete with temporary 2Gbit/s Internet connection) was neatly organized into three days revolving around two major themes: peering coordination and Africa’s Internet transit deficit. After all, Africa imports nearly 99% of its Internet traffic. The result of such inefficient peering is higher costs to the end user. Currently, in many cases, it costs less to transport information from an African coastal city to London than to a neighboring city within the country.

SEACOM-AfPIF

{SEACOM}

The content may seem esoteric and intended for those who already have their feet wet in the intricacies of African broadband networks, but believe us, everyone should know more about the power of Internet peering. Fortunately, AfPIF has done a great job summarizing the recent event. On Twitter, @AfPIF provided top-notch live coverage of the event. Plus, great visuals from the presentations help immensely to drive home trends and statistics.

Highlights from the official AfPIF Twitter account include:

  • Internet Peering- biz r/ship where 2 entities (ISPs, content providers) reciprocally provide reachability to each others’ customers #afpif3
  • Network &internet resilience, capacity, latency and performance issues and innovation are key peering considerations in Africa #afpif3
  • Political instability, security are challenges when building a Pan African network- Mike Silber #afpif3
  • Carrier neutral Data Centers allow providers to grow their products and can become a marketplace for different players #afpif3
  • In Egypt, if you want a license, an ISP must peer at the Internet Exchange Point #afpif3
  • South Africa exchanges highest traffic locally (79%), Africa exports over 90% of traffic abroad- capacity within Africa expensive #afpif3
  • Expectations in Malawi were high that connectivity costs would fall but havent, still paying $1500 perMBps #afpif3

Others Tweeted:

A few additional facts stood out from various presentations:

  • Cross-border Internet bandwidth has increased an estimated 6x since 2008 {Analysys Mason}
  • Internet penetration in Africa has grown 60% in 2 years {SEACOM}
  • Breakdown of broadband cost using cable: 61% last mile, 13% international connectivity, 10% middle mile, 9% other costs, 7% national backhaul {Liquid Telecom}

Also, the announcement that the African Union(AU) selected the Internet Society to support the establishment of Internet exchange points across Africa captured substantial attention. We’ll closely be monitoring this project.

For more information on the goals of AfPIF, look no further than an overview by Dr. Dawit Bekele of The Internet Society.