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Putting Africa on the Internet Measurement Map

Availability and security of the Internet are likely to be boosted in Africa following a three-way partnership to gather Internet data for network operators. Layer 2 Internet Exchange Point (IXP) NAPAfrica and Workonline Communications, a provider of wholesale IP transit and transport services based in sub-Saharan Africa, have teamed up with the RIPE NCC to gather Internet data that will help network operators gain further visibility into the structure of the African Internet.

The two African Internet organisations have volunteered to host the first Remote Route Collector (RRC) for Africa at the NAPAfrica Johannesburg Internet Exchange Point (IXP). The joint announcement was made today at RIPE 72 in Copenhagen, where international Internet Service Providers (ISPs), network operators and other interested parties have gathered to discuss issues of interest to the Internet community.

RRCs feed Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routing data into the RIPE NCC's Routing Information Services (RIS) infrastructure. The RIPE NCC makes this data freely available for the Internet community via its RIPEstat service and network operators use this to troubleshoot problems and inform their routing decisions. This data is also used by researchers and academics. Incorrect BGP announcements can cause massive availability and security issues and can even lead to large portions of the Internet becoming unavailable.

With 21 other RRCs at IXPs around the world, until now Africa has been the only continent without a Route Collector, which means that it has largely been in the dark from the perspective of Internet measurements. The decision to host a route collector is extremely beneficial to operators in the region.

Michele McCann of NAPAfrica had this to say about their decision to support RIS: "As connectivity options and content demands within Africa and between Africa and the rest of the world grow, it's critical that we are able to provide statistics, data and information that will enhance the availability and stability of the network provided by service providers."

Workonline were also positive about the effort: "The sponsorship of bandwidth for the RRC is in line with our commitment to continue developing the African Internet as a whole. Having access to this data will be beneficial to our clients and the industry, and we are excited to be part of the project," says Edward Lawrence, Director of Business Development, Workonline Communications.

As a non-profit organisation, the RIPE NCC partners with organisations like NAPAfrica and Workonline who typically provide connectivity and hosting for the RRCs to collect this information for the benefit of the global Internet community.

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