Growing the Internet

AfPIF Shows How A Vibrant Internet Community Can Be Built For Sustainable Development

The adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) this week in New York is a milestone for the international community. And, implementing these goals is the challenge of our times.

We applaud the world’s governments for agreeing to a specific, active agenda to address clearly defined sustainability goals. Making the SDGs a reality will of course, involve the cooperation and collaboration of the whole of the global community across continents, cultures and disciplines –not just governments but also business, academia and the many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have the knowledge, know how and tools to advance the mission.

At the Internet Society, increasing Internet access to the Internet of Opportunity has been part of our core mission since our earliest days – and we have a strong agenda for development work that includes increasing access to everyone, everywhere.

Yesterday I wrote about why community building is critical for the implementation of the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – today I want to showcase a model of how community building can happen.

The African Peering and Interconnection Forum (or “AfPIF), organized by the Internet Society – is now in its sixth year. AfPIF brings together technical experts, content creators, government officials, community members, and business leaders who care deeply about expanding access to the Internet. It was held recently in Maputo, Mozambique. I encourage participants of the upcoming UN Sustainable Development Summit to watch the archived discussions on the live video stream of the AfPIF event to experience the excitement and to note the organizational elements of its success. A few observations:

Working Together

There is no question that when experts from a variety of disciplines come together to do something – anything – it can challenge the very best of us.

AfPIF is now attracting experts from across Africa dedicated to bringing the open Internet across this great continent. It is attended by hundreds of people who either don’t have a practical way to meet on a daily basis, or may not have met otherwise. But the thirst to meet face to face and learn from one another is unmatched.

What is the secret? Their goal. They know that the only way to build a faster, less expensive, and better Internet in Africa is to come together, share ideas, plan and build.

It’s what some call the “multi-stakeholder model” but we prefer to call “collaborative governance”. Where partners come together – technical experts, businesses, non-profits, and governments – to work together to sort through issues.

This model goes to the very core of the development of the open Internet. From the technology that runs networks – to the policies that help guide how it is governed and liberalized. This model – at its core – means that those with a stake in the future of the Internet need an equal voice in the decisions of how the Internet is deployed and used.

You only have to take part in the event to see why it works.  Imagine what could be possible if we all worked this way?

What We Can Do

As we look at AfPIF, how can we apply this remarkable model to help the SDGs succeed?

1. First, the creation of regional community action groups across each of the 17 SDGs would greatly enhance our probability of success. Different “stakeholders” are required to tackle each of our ambitious goals in the alleviation of poverty, the advancement of health and education and in addressing climate change. Action groups need to be representative from across both providers and users to give richness of values and voice in decision-making.

2. Second, a yearly review of the SDG process would be welcomed. Let’s keep track of what’s worked, what hasn’t, and where we need to reboot.

3. Third, our approach to implementation of the SDGs needs to be collaborative, undertaken with a spirit of global and regional camaraderie and a drive to listen and learn.

4. Finally and Importantly, in order to scale results, we must use the Internet and other ICTs. Our strategies must integrate 21st Century technology tools into each SDG to have a sustainable outcome. And, in order to use the Internet, it must be available to everyone. Building the infrastructure is still job 1.

Congratulations to the AfPIF participants for being a model for diversity, innovation, and change! We are looking forward to AfPIF 2016 in Tanzania. You can attend either in person or by using the Internet. It’s the collaborative model at work and it truly deserves to be experienced, celebrated and replicated.

Photo: © Internet Society / Nyani Quarmyne  CC BY 2.0
Community Projects Growing the Internet

AfPIF 2015 Day 3 Summary

After three days of discussions, the sixth Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) came to a close. This year’s event attracted 232 participants from 57 countries — 40 of which were African countries – and drew 978 online participants from 77 different countries.

The last day focused on “How not to Build an IXP” and the importance of content.

How Not to Build an IXP

For new participants coming from countries without IXPs, the main questions usually are; how much does it cost to set up an IXP? And, should we wait for the local content to grow to set up an IXP or should we set up an IXP and grow the local content exchange after?

The morning session focused on factors to avoid, and factors such as power, and IX sustainability. One compelling presentation demonstrated that it was possible to have a functional IXP on a US$ 1000 budget.

What do you need to do?

1. Market research

2. Build a community

3. Build a technical platform

4. Know who the content providers are in your the country/region

5. Fill up your switch and work on your business plan for the next phase.


Role of Content in Growth of IXPs

The role of content to grow your IXP has become a major topic for AfPIF over the last four years..

Google has been involved in AfPIF since 2010 and is the most common CDN in African countries. Akamai first presented at AfPIF three years ago and has underlined its commitment to spreading its infrastructure in Africa.

In its presentation, Akamai indicated that it was open to serving its CDN traffic, using local caches, to ISP networks through local IXPs. However, the main challenge was the cost of international transit required to populate the local cache, which Akamai leaves to the provider hosting the cache to sort out.

Rwanda,’s IXP – RINEX – explained how they met Akamai during AfPIF 2013 in Morocco, and initiated discussions on the possibility of acquiring a local cache for Rwanda. To meet the cost of the international transit for the cache, the local peers in Rwanda reached a commercial agreement that lowered their per megabit cost for Akamai content. As a result, they were able to increase the amount of local traffic exchanged from a peak of 500Mbps to 1.2Gbps (140%) after delivery of the cache.

Follow-on discussion focused on the issue of locally developed content, locally relevant content, or locally hosted content. It is clear that local hosting is important, for locally relevant content. For instance, major newspapers in Rwanda are hosted abroad, and therefore contributed to the increase in content, with the Akamai cache.

Attracting CDNs to Africa?

Does Africa lack the market to make the business case for CDNs to come to Africa?

Both Akamai and Google noted that with the pace of growth, it was a matter of time before businesses and more locally generated content caught up. They added that even in other markets, it had taken 20 years for the markets to mature.

How do we reduce barriers to content growth?

1. Higher level of trust and collaboration, the rest comes automatically

2. Increase locally relevant content hosting

3. Increase local skills and training

4. Development of data centers and cloud platforms that can host the content

5. Implement policies and regulation that enables competition for terrestrial and cross-border fiber infrastructure.

6. If you don’t have an IXP, then you have no local content to exchange, once you have an IXP, you start thinking of how to improve it.



It is evident from AfPIF 2015 that Africa will achieve 80% local traffic by 2020.

AfPIF 2016 will be held in Tanzania, and we are looking forward to seeing more progress over the next 12 months

Growing the Internet

AfPIF 2015 Day 2 Summary

Working with Local Partners

We started day two at the African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) with the opening ceremony, attended by leaders from Mozambique’s government, education sector, and the private sector. Mozambique’s team is really helping make a difference by opening up the market, supporting the IXP, and working on innovative University projects.

Raul Echeberria, VP, Global Engagement at the Internet Society, gave the opening address; underscoring the importance of training and partnerships, if Africa is to achieve its technology goals.

“The Internet Society has trained more than 1,000 engineers and held more than 75 IXP related workshops in Africa; Internet penetration has grown from seven percent in 2008 to 20 percent today, this is good progress but we still have 80 percent to go,” Echeberria said.

In his speech, Prof. Orland Quilambo, Rector, Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) underscored the role the university has played in ICT infrastructure growth in Mozambique, from bringing Internet into the country, to facilitating the set up of the first IXP.

Dr. Ema Chicoco, CEO, Instituto Nacional das Comunicaçoes de Moçambique (INCM) highlighted the crucial role the regulator has played in ensuring network growth to remote areas, through the universal access fund. She added that the regulator recognises that ICT infrastructure develops fast and there is a need to encourage business models that grow the economy.

Prof. Venancio Massingue, Internet Community Representative and CEO, Science Innovation and Information and Communication Technology Research Institute (SIITRI) is considered the father of the Internet in Mozambique. Prof. Massingue reminisced his attendance of the INET event in San Jose, California in 1998 and the opportunities the training exposed them to. He highlighted the need for increased research within countries, training youth, and knowledge sharing.

Dr. Manuela Rebelo, Vice Minister, Ministry of Transport and Communications formally opened the event, with a commitment that Mozambique will continue with infrastructure growth. She said that the country was also in the process of the digital TV migration, which will open-up more spectrum for infrastructure and ICT business avenues.


The highlight of the day was a panel discussing lessons learnt over the last six years of AfPIF. The Serekunda IXP in Gambia, one of the IXPs that came up under the AXIS project, had the opportunity to share their one-year experience. Launched in July 2014, the IXP has seven peers, and already is in discussions with Google and Akamai to host their caches,.

Lessons Learnt from Growing African Cloud Services

  1. Setting up the IXP is the easy part for the tech community.. Running it and making it attractive to peers is what has proved to be more challenging than expected.
  2. Proving an IXPs value to bigger networks when starting out..

This presentation prompted the question whether countries with limited local content should bother setting up IXPs or should wait for local content to increase. The response was that the best approach is to set up, because there is no way of telling the reaction from the market.

  1. Liquid Telecom shared how it took them 10 years to get to 72% local content (54% Africa peering + 18% CDN), and;
  2. Teraco shared how one client was able to reduce their transit costs by 40 per cent, just by peering at NAPAfrica, and

To demonstrate how peering can reduce costs across sectors, Teraco shared how the South African banking market has been able to save R8 million (US$ 800,000) just by peering at NAPAfrica.

Angani Limited, one of Kenya’s cloud services providers, shared their experience in attracting local businesses to their network. The company was started last year, and currently serves leading email and hosting providers in Kenya, bus companies running ticketing applications, e-health apps and media content. “Uptime” is critical and redundancy helps. Angani collocates at two data centres and is currently pushing 40 Mbps of Internet traffic to KIXP.

  1. Affordable pricing, redundancy, security and reliability are key.
  2. Peering at KIXP has allowed Angani to provide free local capacity, allowing media companies to back up and archive content easily.

Most Popular Tweet of the day


Watch What Happened Online

Community Projects Growing the Internet

AfPIF 2015 Day 1 Summary

Missed the first day of AfPIF? Here’s the recap!

The first day of AfPIF is usually known as “Peering Coordinators’ Day”, and focused on addressing emerging technical issues on interconnection in line with this year’s theme “Lessons Learnt”.


For AfPIF-15 Day 1, topics for discussion related to data centre operations and features such as cross-connects. There was a session that shared peering and transit experiences and tutorials. why should we be measuring interconnection was the title of the last panel discussion that showcased the state and evolution of interconnection in Africa . The last session of the day is one of the best – “Peering Introductions” – where participants introduce their networks and state their peering policies and express their interest to meet potential peers at AfPIF.

Data centres

Interxion shared their experience running carrier neutral data centres in Europe and offered lessons for African companies who want to run resilient and agile facilities capable of attracting big businesses. In terms of facilities, a data centre can be in a remote or metropolitan area, but must have high connectivity, grid power, and clear standard operating procedures, scalability, a trained workforce, and a well-outlined business case.

NAPAfrica is probably Africa’s largest carrier neutral data centre, launched in 2009, after the deregulation of the South African telecommunication market in 2008. The launch of several telecom companies, deregulation, entry of submarine cables, and general business growth has driven demand for NAPAfrica services.


For NAPAfrica, and Common to many African countries, power outages have been one of their biggest challenges but at the same time their best indirect advertisement opportunity. Availability of power can be used to determine the data centre location, given cooling needs and a growing demand for increased power, to cope with a growing business.


Seacom’s announcement that it will be shift to an “open” peering policy was big news for this community. This means any network in Africa that is not a customer of Seacom can peer with them at any of their current eight (8) and future peering locations.. Seacom’s decision to peer openly is inspired by the need to grow the level of content exchanged within the continent. This experience prompted MainOne, a submarine cable operator in West Africa speaking during the peering introductions, to mention that they would review their selective peering policy in the days ahead.

AfriNIC’s new policy which reserves IPv4 addresses for IXPs while maintaining the 100% discount policy is a seen as a big boost for IXP development in Africa. Thus far over 30 IXPs have benefited from this initiative.

A number of presentations during the course of the day highlighted on routing security an indicator that more on this area needs to be done. The MANRS initiative presented by the Internet Society proposed a collaborative approach towards addressing some of the issues.

On the measurements panel the data sets on the launch of the Liberia IXP in early August provided empirical data on the benefits visible benefits of an IXP. The measurements made use of Atlas Probes in Liberia. This may have triggered renewed interest in the deployment of the probes, as over 17 measurement probes were distributed to 10 countries across Africa thereafter.

There were 13 ASN’s that stood to introduce themselves at the end of day one with more expected tomorrow. The meeting convenes tomorrow with the official opening by the Mozambique Ministry of Transport and Communication. You are welcome to follow the sessions remotely from

Most Popular Tweet of the Day

Don’t forget – our hashtag is #AfPIF205. Tweet it and maybe you’ll win most popular tweet of the day! 


Want to WATCH What Happened?

Watch yestersday sessions

Community Projects Growing the Internet

AfPIF 2015: Where Business in Africa Start

The sixth African Peering and Interconnection Forum opened today. Sixth!

It’s a conference I’ve seen grow and change over the past six years into somewhat of a landmark event for those in Africa and working with Africa who focus on building the Internet in Africa.

So – while many technical experts, businesses leaders, content creators, and regional experts gather together for a sixth year – it strikes me as a great time really see how this conference – which started as a simple idea – has grown to become a pivotal backbone to the African economy and development.

A faster and cheaper Internet is key to African businesses

There are dozens of reports outlining the Internet’s potential for Africa and, thanks to some recent studies – there’s a clear progression in terms of how to do it.

But what needs to be said about all of this is one thing:

For Africa to profit from the Internet the Internet actually needs to be there, it needs to work, and it needs to work well.

The people who come to AfPIF are the ones who are making that happen.

Building Africa’s Business Backbone: It’s About People

What’s magic about AfPIF – truly magic – is what happens here between people. In comparison to much of the developed world – meeting one another, sharing ideas and building contacts isn’t as simple as it sounds. There are not many African forums where people can meet in an affordable environment. Many conferences are too expensive for most African professionals to attend. Travel isn’t always economically or practically feasible. In many ways working professionals exist in their own world without even knowing what is happening in the country next door.

This is why we started AfPIF:

  • Through fellowships we help key African Internet players overcome some key travel hurdles.
  • By broadcasting AfPIF over LiveStream (link). Anyone can take part from anywhere.
  • By moving the conference around to each of Africa’s regions we’re able to bring the conference TO the people who are trying to get there, and,
  • By keeping it open we remove a lot of the costly entrance fees that can be a barrier to so many.

Why Does It Work? It Wasn’t an Empty Promise

Just like the Internet we’re building – we kept AfPIF open. This means you don’t have to pay anything, you don’t need to know anyone, and you don’t need to wait for a long sought after invite to show up on your desk.

You just need to either be here in person, watch it online, share your ideas, and network. Just be a part of it.

The result is amazing. Imagine a room full of people with this amazing desire to learn – matched with an incredible desire to share. AfPIF’s camaraderie is unmatched.

We told people this was our vision, we delivered, and we kept it that way – after six years.

And, we see the impact. There are more IXPs in Africa, and more local traffic in Africa each year.

What’s the Result: Great Business Outcomes For Africa

In simple terms, “peering” is when Internet service providers (ISPs) connect with each other directly or at a central location (an IXP) to avoid sending traffic through expensive international Internet connections to connect with each other. This means ISPs can provide better performance using fewer resources. And, the rest of us have the potential to have faster and cheaper Internet. 

But, when most peering relationships start with a handshake – we need a place to do that.

At AfPIF we gather together technical people, business leaders, and content providers, to build the personal relationships needed to make peering happen. Together, the plan is build, and change the African economy – one relationship at a time.

Growing the Internet

Be One of The Africa Internet Experts to Meet in Mozambique Next Week

Building the Internet takes all kinds of people and, like anywhere, it takes a lot of work and a lot and a lot of trail and error.

If you’re working in the world of African Internet when it comes to policy, tech or content – next week is key!

Starting on August 24th, Africa’s leading Internet experts will meet in Maputo, Mozambique for the annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF).

The 3 day event – which will also be LiveStreamed – offers intense learning and more meaningful business and networking opportunities than a typical tech conference.

AfPIF 2015 Focuses on Case Studies

Speakers and sessions at this year’s AfPIF will focus on personal case studies. Together, participants will review what’s worked and what hasn’t when it comes to things like interconnection, peering and traffic exchange in Africa.

The three-day forum will engage in discussions on carrier neutral data center services and best practice, peering and transit experiences, tracking the evolution of intra African traffic localization and peering evolution in Africa.

Richard Bell, CEO of KOOBA, is scheduled to give the keynote: “Content and Data Centres – The Next Frontier for East Africa’s Silicon Savannah”

Patrick Christian of Telegeography will present new data on Africa Interconnection growth over the last 5 years in the second keynote of the event.

Learn How to Build IXPs

The “how to” sessions allow participants from established and new IXPs to share ideas on how to build IXPs, why and how to interconnect, and how to build an IXP from scratch.

Meet People Who Are Facing Similar Challenges

One of the major highlights of AfPIF meetings is the “peering introductions” sessions, where participants express interest in meeting participants from various networks and the introductions are organized through a meeting tool.

Join us online or in person

This year’s AfPIF will to be hosted by Eduardo Mondlane University Computing Centre (CIUEM) partnership with the Internet Society.

It takes place at :

Girassol Indy Congress Hotel & SPA.

Rua Macombe Nongué-Nongué, R.1.373 – Sommerschield, Maputo, Mozambique.

Not in Maupto? No problem. The conference will also be broadcast over LiveStream and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and share your experiences virtually.

Find out how to register on the AfPIF 2015 website.

You’ll head back to work reenergized and with new contacts to help you take on even some of the most difficult challenges when it comes to building an open and affordable Internet across Africa.

photo: © Nyani Quarmyne / Internet Society

Sixteen fellows to be at AfPIF this year

Sixteen technology experts have been sponsored for this year’s Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) conference, taking place on August 25th to 27th at the Girassol Indy Congress Hotel in Maputo, Mozambique.

The fellows bring the number of fellowships to a hundred, in the last six years. Since inception, AfPIF has endeavored to bring more African technology experts together, in effort to develop more solutions. In 2010 there were 5 fellowships, 14 in 2011, 17 in 2012, 28 in 2013, 20 in 2014 and 16 this year.

The fellows are drawn from the public and private sector, and are expected to deepen their understanding and develop solutions for peering and interconnection in their respective countries.  The Internet Society convened the first AfPIF in 2010 and it has become an important annual event for peering coordinators, ISPs, regulators, content and infrastructure providers. 

Among other benefits reaped by the African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) recipients will be;

  • Sharing experiences on ways to improve running and administering of a new, or existing IXP
  • Business opportunity to meet potential IXP members
  • Promote public awareness and evangelism of IXPs and peering in general at the national and regional level
  • Advance and influence national/regional policies on peering and cross-border Internet interconnection
  • Provide a face-to-face networking opportunity for peers and experts

Now in its sixth year, the three-day event will run on different themes; first day being “Peering Coordinators Day” that will highlight on interconnection and data center operations. The second day’s theme will be on “Lesson Learnt” where the impact of peering in Africa will be discussed. The last day of AfPIF will run under the theme “Regional Content Producers and Distributers” where Internet exchange point (IXP) and measurements will be discussed.

The Internet Society called for application end of April 2015, giving a one-month duration for individuals to apply for the programme after which the committee took three weeks to sort the applications and announce qualified individuals. To attend the AfPIF fellowship, persons must be actively engaged in Internet policy, business and technical development relating to peering and transit. Also, the applicant in question should be African who has previously worked towards the development of an IXP and is able to demonstrate proof of work done in either of the fields.

The participants will be eligible to Air ticket to and from Maputo, Mozambique Hotel accommodation for the duration of the event. 

Meet the 2015 fellowship recipients

Read on the Internet Society News Release announcing AfPIF 2015 Fellows to Attend Africa’s Premier Peering Event in Maputo, Mozambique