The African Union's drive to have more Internet traffic exchanged within the continent has gained momentum with the launch of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) in Namibia and Burundi.
African countries currently exchange most of their traffic in Europe, and the 54-country AU is hoping to have 80 percent of the traffic exchanged within the continent by 2020. The current drive to set up more IXPs is being done in conjunction with the Internet Society and supported by other African organizations like AFRINIC, the regional Internet registry.
"In a region where Internet is increasingly becoming accessible, we are committed to continuing supporting the development of a stable and resilient infrastructure in order to sustain Internet growth throughout Africa," said Adiel Akplogan, CEO of AFRINIC.
The goal of the IXP project is to catalyze innovation and development of Internet services and applications within AU countries. The IXPs act as points for ISPs, network and content providers to exchange content without incurring transit costs to Europe.
The launch of local IXPs "will go a long way in ensuring that more African Internet traffic is routed locally, an important factor for local content development and affordable transit costs across the region," Akplogan said.
Out of all the AU countries, only 17 have operational IXPs. The others rely on international transit, which means the cost of connectivity remains high, affecting the growth of other ICT-related services.
"IXPs will support government efforts to implement E-government services, and lower the cost of developing local hosting and application development; the presence of the IXP will improve local Internet resilience by eliminating the dependence on international connectivity for local Internet services and Internet-based communications," said Dawit Bekele, director of the African Regional Bureau of the Internet Society, in a press release sent after the launch in Burundi.
AU IXP policies are adopting a multistakeholder model, where all key parties in the country's ICT industry are involved. BurundiX will be managed by the Association of BurundiX, bringing together multiple parties within the ICT industry. In Namibia, the IXP will be managed by the IXP Association of Namibia, established as a non-profit organization to manage the IXP.