Community Projects Growing the Internet

Local Content in Local Languages Matters

Sub-Saharan Africa has seen great improvements in connectivity infrastructure and affordability in recent years. In particular, in some countries up to 90% or more of citizens have access to mobile Internet signals. In spite of this, Internet adoption is stagnating in many countries. The report “Promoting Content in Africa” poses that in order to spur growth, a greater emphasis on the demand for Internet connectivity is required. The report focusses on a number of issues which need to be addresses in order to facilitation content creation and availability, thereby improving the value of Internet connectivity to potential users in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Crucially, a greater focus on local language content is required, as many potential users do not have sufficient skills in popular online languages such as English and French, but do in local languages. Currently, there are very few websites in local languages, which leads to a vicious circle with little content creations in terms of websites, which attracts few users, which in turn is little incentive for further website content creation. When direct communication such as through social media, such as Facebook and Whatsapp, is concerned, uptake and local language usage is much greater.

National governments can fulfil a key role in stimulating local language content on the web, by leading by example and ensuring that content on government websites is also available in the recognised official local languages.

Additionally, monetisation of content is currently a severely limiting factor. There are significant barriers on the payments side, which prevent users from purchasing content. However, there are even greater barriers on the payout side, which prevent content creators from effectively monetising their content. This last limitation also applies to monetisation of content through advertising. In addition to this, advertising is hindered by a very limited support of local languages, which means that local language pages cannot be monetised.

Find out more about what you can do to promote local content.

Growing the Internet

Content Infrastructure: The new bottleneck

While access to the Internet used to be the critical bottleneck in many emerging countries, the mobile Internet has changed all of that. Just as mobile telephony quickly leap-frogged fixed telephony in almost every country, the mobile Internet is now the main form of access for most users. Today, with some countries having 90% availability of mobile Internet, but with adoption far below that level, we see clearly that Internet access is a means to an end, and that end is Internet content. Our new report, “Promoting Content in Africa” shows that content is king for increasing demand for Internet adoption and usage. Content must not just be locally relevant, a point noted here but it must be locally available.

As we have shown in a recent study in Rwanda, most content relevant to local needs, including both international as well as locally developed content, is hosted abroad, in Europe or even the US. This increases costs and decreases use. First, ISPs bear a significant cost in bringing the content back into the country each time it is requested over expensive international links. Second, the time to load a page from overseas is longer and less predictable and, as most of us know, the slower a website the less likely we are to continue.

As a result, content infrastructure is needed to host and deliver the content locally. This includes data centres to hold the content and provide access to local connections; hosting providers or content delivery networks to host the content in the data centre; and an Internet exchange point to provide efficient connections to the ISPs and their end-user customers. Having content hosted in a local data centre and delivered through a local IXP increases the speed of downloads significantly, which is noticeable to users and in our experience may quickly double usage.

The Internet Society has long played a role in helping to promote the development of IXPs, which are a critical piece of infrastructure for content delivery. With this paper, we go further and discuss the steps that policymakers can take to remove roadblocks and promote a local content infrastructure, in order to increase local demand for Internet content and help to create a local market for content developers, another step in the path towards creating vibrant and sustainable Internet ecosystems in every country.

Community Projects Growing the Internet

AfPIF Day 1: Changing The Conversation

It’s the first day of the African Peering and Interconnection Forum, or as most of the crew here call it, AfPIF.

AfPIF started six years ago and has since grown into one of the continent’s most beloved events, dedicated to bringing Africa online.

From a business point of view, it challenges the traditional Western competitive model. Instead, it shows that when companies work together, their bottom line benefits and customers get better service for less.

It’s called peering. When companies peer, they are working together for a stronger Internet.

Today AfPIF reminded people of peering’s success with the launch of a new Internet Society report focusing on local content.

The report shows new findings that demonstrate that although more people CAN log on, they’re choosing not to.

Why? We need local content in local languages.

You can download the report and listen to some of the challenges from a local app developer in Ghana on our website.

Indeed, without the first step of making the Internet available – we wouldn’t have these new insights.

If you want to follow along with AfPIF, there are still two days left and a high-quality Livestream channel!

You can also post questions and comments on social media. Tag em #AfPIF2016!

Are you in Africa and working to bring a people online? Tell us about it!

Community Projects Growing the Internet

AfPIF: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Miss It

For the last seven years, Africa’s technology players have gathered at the annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF).

It’s a rare forum that brings together the people who are at the starting point of connecting Africa.  Together they exploring ways to reduce Internet connectivity costs, and grow local and regional exchange of Internet traffic.

From businesses to service providers to policy makers, AfPIF is a diverse and dedicated community who believe that we are better together.

They WANT to enhance exchange of content at local level, and enjoy lower the cost of connectivity, lower latency, and more.

Looking Back

Over time, AfPIF has built its reputation as the premier forum for the Internet technical community, with international and local technology businesses exploring ways to connect Africa.

At the first meeting in Nairobi, Kenya in 2010, the discussions revolved around investment in more ICT infrastructure to cover more areas. Back then, Western and Eastern Africa coasts were laying fiber optics and costs of connectivity were still high. After the cables landed, the cost of connectivity was cut but, the prices still remained high compared to other regions.


One reason was most of the local traffic was in Europe or North America.

In 2010, only 10 countries had operational IXPs. People knew that if cost of connectivity was lower, then more people and businesses would get online.  This would create more local content that would encourage the development of IXPs.

AfPIF was the place to make it happen.

That first meeting was attended by over 80 participants from 20 countries.  By the time the sixth meeting happened in 2015, there were 232 participants from 57 countries. The number of remote participants grew year after year to reach 1,032 at AFPIF 2015.

It is also undeniable that in the last seven year’s customers across Africa are benefiting from a faster and more affordable Internet.

This has provided more growth and opened opportunities for businesses across the continent.

In fact, even companies like Google, Akamai, and Cloudflare, are showing increased interest in the Africa. They’re exploring partnerships with the same companies that come to AfPIF. Once there, people can fix meetings with other each other, depending on interest.

This is important since many peering agreements start with a handshake. Formal agreements follow later and in some cases, no formal agreements, but peering happens.

Peering is working together for a stronger Internet.

Watch it happen:

One of AfPIF goals is to give practical solutions to challenges by bringing people together.  For instance, an Engineer in Telecoms and Networks Mobility at Benin Telecoms SA participated in AfPIF 2014, and was able to link up with the Google team. After that, Google deployed the first cache in Benin at Benin Telecom.

The increased number of tech companies has resulted in market growth, job growth, greater competition among providers, direct access to national and international carriers, and bandwidth flexibility because of low latencies

The countries’ ability to attract global companies is a boost to the local IT sector as more data centers have come up, providing hosting services for applications, software and platforms, among other services.

Africa is at a tipping point. It now sits at the forefront of Internet expansion and the continent is positioned to help drive the future of the global Internet.  It has a chance to leapfrog technology and constraints, and to create an Internet that helps to solve local as well as global problems.

The Internet Society understands the enormous potential for the Internet in Africa, and for the Internet to define Africa’s future.

We need you to be a part of it.

If you’re not here this year, watch AfPIF on LiveStream and get in touch on Twitter.

Who would you like to get together with?

Development Technology

The Internet Society shows commitment to Africa tech

The Internet Society has strengthened its commitment to Africa’s technology development by selecting 23 fellows from 20 countries to participate at the annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF).

Through the fellowship program, participants from countries that exchange a lot of content locally will get a chance to share experiences with countries that are at the preliminary stages of setting up local infrastructure. The meeting is taking place in Tanzania from August 30th to September 1st 2016.

Instituted in 2010, the fellowship is part of AfPIF’s efforts to bring more African technology experts together to advance and influence peering and interconnection on the continent. Through the fellowship programme, industry thought leaders who may not otherwise have had the opportunity to participate in the forum are given a platform to share ideas and experiences aimed at increasing multi-stakeholder participation for an interconnected Africa.

The annual AfPIF forum has facilitated discussions on African Internet infrastructure challenges, including terrestrial capacity, national and regional Internet Exchange Point (IXP) development, local content development, connectivity costs and international peering. Entering the sixth year now, the forum has recorded a steady increase in the number of applicants for the fellowship, with this year alone attracting 23 finalists out of 120 applications.

As Africa’s premier peering event, the fellowship brings together individuals actively engaged in Internet policy, business and technical development relating to peering and transit, and will be seeking to have the participants share their experiences on ways to improve the running and administering of new or existing IXPs, Meet potential IXP members from the same or different countries, Promote public awareness and evangelize peering in their respective countries and regions.

The deliberations from the AfPIF forum have provided participants with a chance to advance and influence national/regional policies on peering as well as cross-border Internet interconnection and this year will be no different. With a programme running for three days, the fellows are set to benefit from deliberations on; Interconnection, promoting content in Africa, Policy and Regulation, the different business models of IXPs, Interconnection and Data Centre Operations, Peering and Transit Technical Tutorials as well as policy and regulatory matters.

The fellowship program call for applications was open for a month, closing in June 2016 and sought experts in Internet peering policy, business and those working towards the development of IXPs in their respective countries with the finalists being announced in July 2016.

Over the years, the number of AfPIF fellows has grown steadily from an initial 11 fellowships in 2010 when the program begun, 15 in 2011, 18 in 2012, 28 in 2013, 30 in 2014, 16 in 2015 and 23 this year.

The 2016 AfPIF Fellows are:

  • Livingstone Kalu (Nigeria), eStream Networks
  • Ghislain Nkeramugaba (Rwanda), RICTA/RINEX
  • Ivy Hoetu (Ghana), National Communications Authority
  • Philippe Junior SIBIRO (Central African Republic), SPJ Labs
  • Jean-Baptiste Millogo (Burkina Faso), AIRTEL Burkina Faso
  • Ousmane Moussa Tessa (Niger), Niger-REN
  • Randrianarivony Nirinarisantatra (Madagascar), iRENALA
  • Janvier Ngnoulaye (Cameroon), University of Yaounde/ISOC Cameroon
  • Nico Tshintu Bakajika (Democratic Republic of Congo),ISPA-DRC/KINIX
  • Asegid Legesse Teshome (Ethiopia), Ethio Telecom
  • Hervé Typamm (Togo), WARCIP
  • Brahim ousmane mustapha  (Chad), SYDONIA Chad
  • Kpetermeni Siakor (Liberia), Liberia Internet Exchange Point Association
  • Islam Abou El Ata (Morocco), CAS-IX
  • Gabriel Kapumpe (Zambia), Zambia Telecommunications Company LTD
  • Eusebio Miku Cornelius (Tanzania), Habari Node Ltd. and Arusha Internet eXchange Point
  • Christian Muhirwa (Rwanda), Broadband Systems Corporation
  • Mucowimana Nepomucene (Burundi), ARCT
  • Ali Bakri Mustafa Elfaki (Sudan), National Information Center
  • Francisco Mabila (Mozambique), UEM/MOZIX
  • Kiemde Wênden tôe fâa Franck (Burkina Faso), Burkina Faso Internet EXchange Point (BFIX)
  • Assangbe Woto Gbetondji Vivien (Benin), Benin Telecoms Infrustructures SA
  • Anibe Onuche (Nigeria), Internet Exchange Points of Nigeria (IXPN)

Get to know our 2016 AfPIF Fellows.

AfPIF is a multi-stakeholder forum that seeks participation and contribution from key players such as infrastructure providers, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), international financial institutions, policy-makers and regulators in order to exchange ideas to advance and influence national/regional policies on peering and cross-border Internet interconnection.

The forum marks six years of successful planning as a non-profit event, relying on international sponsorship and support. The first AfPIF was convened in 2010 and it has since become an important calendar event for peering coordinators, ISPs, regulators, content and infrastructure providers.

If you want to join AfPIF from the comfort of your home join us on LiveStream!

Growing the Internet

Connecting Africa: Let's Keep the Momentum Going!

Location: Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Date: 30th August- 1st September 2016

I’m leaving an incredible week at the African Internet Summit in Bostwana feeling inspired! Africa IS at a tipping point and we need to keep the momentum going.

To that end I’d like to remind everyone about the African Peering and Interconnection Forum (or AfPIF it’s known) happening at the end of August in  Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

AfPIF about building connections.

Connections across boarders, connections between people, connections between governments, connections between businesses.  

AfPIF is the event to come to in Africa to meet:

  • Chief Technology Officers of Internet Service Providers or companies;
  • Technical experts who build and run Internet Exchange Points;
  • Policy and Decision Makers – both in Africa and Globally;
  • Representatives from financial institutions around the world

Here are ways you can take part:

Why are we doing this? Here’s why:

The Internet Changes Everything – Ghana from Internet Society on Vimeo.

Help #ConnectAfrica and join us!

Growing the Internet Technology

AfPIF is coming to Tanzania!

Today, the Internet Society announced in its press release that it is bringing, in partnership with the Tanzania Internet Service Providers Association (TISPA), its annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) to Tanzania. AfPIF-7 will take place in the country’s capital, Dar es Salaam from 30 August- 1 September 2016.

In a press conference marking the official announcement held today in Dar es Salaam, Michuki Mwangi, Senior Development Manager for Africa and Middle East, Internet Society, spoke to the various journalists present about AfPIF and the benefits it brings to the local community in building cross-border interconnection opportunities and facilitate discussions on African Internet infrastructure challenges, including terrestrial capacity, development of national and regional Internet Exchange Points (IXP) and local content. The announcement was attended among others by Dr. Ali y. Simba, Director General of the Tanzania Communications Regulatory authority (TCRA) and Mr. Vinay Choudary, Chairman of TISPA.

The press conference was followed by a peering workshop attended by more than 18 network engineers and representatives from TISPA, Spicenet, UHURUONE, SATCOM Networks and other stakeholders in Tanzania. As part of the pre-events of AfPIF 2016, the peering workshop discussed issues such as:

  • Peering Best Practices
  • Peering and Transit Business Development
  • Advancing The Peering Ecosystem

Serving as a platform to expand Internet infrastructure and services across Africa, it is expected that AfPIF 2016 will bring together key players to address the opportunities in interconnection, peering and traffic exchange on the continent.

Join us in Tanzania and be part of the change we are bringing in how people think about connecting the net!