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IXP ecosystems central to Africa’s digital economic drive

By , ITWeb
Africa , 24 Jun 2020

According to a new report published by the Internet Society Anchoring the African Internet Ecosystem: Lessons from Kenya and Nigeria’s Internet Exchange Points Growth, the growth of the IXPs in Kenya and Nigeria was exponential, as were the cost savings from exchanging traffic locally rather than using expensive international transit.

The latest report, launched today, gives an update on a study published by the Internet Society in 2012 which examined two of Africa’s more advanced IXPs at the time - KIXP in Kenya, and IXPN in Nigeria.

In Kenya, KIXP grew from carrying peak traffic of 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) in 2012 to 19 Gbps in 2020, with cost savings quadrupling to US$6-million per year. In Nigeria, IXPN grew from carrying just 300 Megabits per second (Mbps) to peak traffic of 125 Gbps in 2020, and cost savings increased forty times to US$40-million per year.

“Kenya and Nigeria are in a better position than ever before to cope with – and contribute to – the digital revolution that COVID-19 has accelerated as the internet becomes a lifeline for many people. It’s clear Africa is ready to embrace the digital revolution to spur economic development. But reaching this goal will depend on our community of passionate people on the ground, policymakers, regulators and businesses embracing IXPs and working in collaboration to create these essential local traffic anchors,” explains Michuki Mwangi, Senior Director of Internet Technology and Development for the Internet Society.

The organisation adds that the rapid pace of internet development in both countries underscores the critical role that IXPs and the accompanying infrastructure play in the establishment of strong and sustainable internet ecosystems.

The achievement is a significant step towards the vision set by the peering community in Africa 10 years ago: for 80% of African internet traffic to be local.

Among the reasons cited in the report for Kenya and Nigeria’s progress, is that the governments in both countries adopted policies that made it easier for an internet ecosystem to thrive.

Both governments not only made it easier for different service providers to develop sub-marine cables, but they also adopted data protection regulations that spurred confidence and attracted international service providers, according to the research.

Both countries count on the Internet to develop their service economies, that thrive on financial, trade and professional services.

Kenya for example, is a 40% service economy with many essential government services having moved online.

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