SEACOM seeks to take the lead in Africa's IP transit market

Signs agreements with three European IXPs

SEACOM has embarked on an ambitious effort to dominate Africa's regional and global Internet transit market by signing agreements with three European Internet Exchange points.

The partnership with France IX, London Internet Exchange and Amsterdam IX means that African networks will find it easier and cheaper to buy transit capacity from SEACOM, compared to buying directly in Europe.

Currently, an operator interested in buying global transit is expected to invest in high-end routers, pay for co-location in either of the exchanges, and then approach a transit provider like SEACOM to provide the capacity. This agreement eliminates hardware and co-location costs.

"SEACOM is aiming to provide interconnection within Africa and globally through the European providers; we are extending the connection through our Multi Protocol Label Switching network," said Mark Tinka, head of engineering at SEACOM, during the Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum in Casablanca, Morocco.

Given the low level of content hosted within the continent, most operators peer in either London, Amsterdam or Marseille, which gave SEACOM the opportunity to bundle services into an attractive package for fiber-optic service providers in the region. SEACOM has also entered into partnerships with South Africa based NAPAfrica, an independent IXP that is currently exchanging 2.5G bps capacity.

"We feel there is a market for international peering through our network and if there is a cheaper option for operators to exchange content within Africa, we will do all we can to facilitate that," added Tinka, when asked if this is the solution to Africa's interconnection challenges.

The IXPs working with SEACOM have been involved in sponsorship and training of technical teams in Africa. France IX is the latest entrant and has been involved in training Francophone African countries to set up IXPs. Eventually, France IX hopes to make Marseille an attractive peering destination for global transit.

"Out of the 17 fiber optic cables in North Africa, only Tunisia and Algeria are interconnected, all the others meet at the exchange point in Marseille," said Moez ChakChouk, one of the founders at Tunisia IXP, while giving his keynote speech at the peering forum.

For network operators seeking to reduce costs of global transit, SEACOM is hoping to bring the solutions closer, through their Points of Presence (PoP) and data center situated in various countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.

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