42% of African countries without IXPs, route Internet traffic abroad
About 42 per cent of countries in Africa current lack Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), which means that most of their domestic Internet traffic is exchanged through points outside their respective country.
This is usually through satellite or submarine fiber across multiple international hubs to reach their destinations.
While Nigeria has about five IXPs, spread across the country, countries without the facility lose billions of dollars yearly to foreign exchange points.
Besides, this can result in poor end-user experiences and discourages hosting content locally, which are some of the key factors towards the development of the local Internet ecosystem.
An Internet Exchange Point is where multiple local and international networks, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and content providers interconnect their networks together to efficiently exchange Internet traffic through an arrangement commonly referred to as Peering.
Peering at IXPs helps keep domestic Internet traffic local by offloading traffic from relatively expensive international links to more affordable local links.
As a result, ISPs are able to offer improved Internet experiences for end-users and spur interest in hosting content locally.
As such, to bridge this major infrastructure gap, the Internet Society (IS), which released the statistics, said it is partnering with Facebook to promoting IXP infrastructure development, training and community engagement with the objective of increasing the number of IXPs and supporting the expansion of existing IXPs to meet the growing demand in Africa.
Studies have shown that Internet users throughout Africa benefit from Peering as it enables faster, more affordable and reliable access to content.
The Guardian checks showed that while Nigeria has about 100 million Internet users, Africa is home to 453 million users.
Africa Regional Bureau Director for the Internet Society, Dawit Bekele, explained that the Internet community adopted the goal of having at least 80 per cent of the Internet traffic consumed in Africa being locally accessible, and only 20 per cent sourced outside the continent by the year 2020.
“We are getting closer to that target thanks to the many activities that promote interconnection and hosting in Africa and to partnerships such as the one we are announcing today with Facebook,” he stated.
According to the Africa IXP Association (Af-IX), there are approximately 44 active IXPs located across 32 countries in Africa.
This has resulted in a 275 per cent growth of locally exchanged Internet traffic over the last 10 years (there were 16 IXPs in 2008).
During the same period, traffic exchanged at the African IXPs increased from 0.16Gbps to 412Gbps with over 800 networks now connected at these IXPs.
Head, Connectivity and Access, Africa at Facebook, Kojo Boakye, said the social media platform admire the Internet Society’s important work to improve connectivity in Africa by supporting IXPs.
“Our partnership with the Internet Society will help develop Africa’s IXP ecosystem by deploying resources like training and equipment to the areas where they are most urgently needed.”