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At just 5%, Africa’s IPv6 deployment is far behind global rate

By October 2022 the global IPv6 deployment rate stood at 40%.

From left to right: Ryan Zhao, CTO of ME & Africa Region Huawei Data Communication Product Line, Anderson Amlamba, Director of Africa Union Management Information System, John OMO, Secretary-General of African Telecommunications Union, Gary Lu, President of Huawei CNBG Network Marketing & Solution Sales Department.
From left to right: Ryan Zhao, CTO of ME & Africa Region Huawei Data Communication Product Line, Anderson Amlamba, Director of Africa Union Management Information System, John OMO, Secretary-General of African Telecommunications Union, Gary Lu, President of Huawei CNBG Network Marketing & Solution Sales Department.

Africa’s slow migration from Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) to IPv6 is more to do with a lack of awareness rather than hesitancy – but for the continent to develop this technology (which industry stakeholders say is crucial for innovation), governments must take a lead role.

Speaking at the launch of the “Africa IPv6 Development White Paper” by the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), African Union (AU) and Huawei at the 4th Broadband Africa Forum at AfricaCom 2022, Anderson Amlamba, director of the AU’s Management Information System, pointed out that there is global consensus on the importance of IPv6.

She stressed that the IPv6 industry ecosystem has matured in terms of terminals, networks, applications and cloud platforms.

“IPv6 allows for innovation and a lot more technology-driven development,” she said. “The value chain, including the content and devices, is ready, but the part that is missing is the network.”

The white paper aims to provide guidance and reference for IPv6 technology innovation and development in Africa, thereby accelerating the construction of network digital infrastructure and promoting the development of the digital economy on the continent.

Amlamba further pointed out that as Africa looks to accelerate IPv6 development, governments across the continent should take the lead by formulating IPv6 strategic plans and policies, and promoting IPv6 organisation, industry, ecosystem construction and talent cultivation.

Africa’s progress is being hampered by a lack of awareness.

Amlamba said, “I don’t think its hesitancy, I think it’s really a lack of awareness. This conversation has not been put front and centre in a lot of technology circles. If experts in that realm don’t push it to the front line, it’s not going to be seen as something that needs to be done with urgency. It’s not a voluntary lack of deploying, it’s just never actually been a priority.IPv6 adoption has to be led through policies,” she said. “That’s the only way we’ll be able to get IPv6 adoption through all the different industry sectors and verticals.”

With the rapid development of the Internet of Things, industrial internet and artificial-intelligence services, the IPv4 address shortage is becoming increasingly serious. IPv6 has sufficient addresses, good scalability and high security. By October 2022 the global IPv6 deployment rate stood at 40%. However, the IPv6 development among countries is uneven, especially in Africa, which is far behind the global average at just 5%.

“IPv6 must be treated as a matter of urgency,” said Amlamba. “Otherwise, we run the risk of being cut off from the world.”

John Omo, Secretary-General of the ATU, encouraged everyone to understand the importance and approaches for IPv6 migration and adoption. This, he said, is critical to the continued success of the internet in transforming the lives of Africans.

“The migration of IPv4 to IPv6 is one of the most pressing needs facing the continent,” he said. “Because of historic advantages, the world has had a head start when it comes to building a digital ecosystem, and the continent needs to catch up.”

he migration to IPv6 will unlock new opportunities to do even more with the internet and have even greater impact in Africa. Omo stressed the importance of cooperation when it comes to ensuring that this impact is maximised.

“With increased connectivity not just for humans but for things, IPv6 is crucial,” he said. “We need to see partnerships between the various sectors of the internet community to get the message of IPv6’s importance across.”

Ryan Zhao, CTO of the Middle East and Africa region of Huawei’s Data Communication Product Line, pointed out that the IP bearer network is the cornerstone of the digital transformation of thousands of vertical industries.

“IP is the only technology that can multi-point to multi-point,” he said. “It is the cornerstone for digital transformation.”

“But IPv6 enhanced technology is not enough on its own,” he added. “We need to build the best-experience IP networks possible by bringing together IP-enhanced technologies, such as Huawei’s SuperEdge, Cloud-Network Express, Converged Backbone, and Digital Map.”

The network will further help African operators build IPv6 intelligent cloud networks, enabling Africa’s digital transformation.

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