Digital Economy
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A new report published by the internet society (InternetSociety.org) today highlights how African countries can bring Internet connectivity to the continent quicker and less costly. The report shows how better connectivity provides countries with a crucial opportunity to continue to build more resilient digital economies.

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

Internet exchange points (IXPs) are the location for ISPs and other network operators to meet and share internet traffic. They are a key technical infrastructure that enhances access to the Internet by maintaining local internet traffic. Without a local IXP, providers must exchange and access content using expensive international internet connectivity (usually hosted abroad).

The ability to manage local traffic results in quicker and cheaper Internet access. IXP growth was exponential in every region, just as the cost savings from local traffic exchanges were exponential rather than international transit. KIXP grew to 19 Gbps in 2020 in Kenya, from a maximum of 1 Gbps per second (Gbps) of 2012 to a maximum of 6 million U.S. dollars per annum of savings. Nigeria saved up to US$ 40 million per year by 40%, from just 300 megabits per second (Mbps) to 125 Gbps peak traffic in 2020.

“The Digital Revolution where COVID-19 has accelerated as the Internet becomes the lifeline for many people, Kenya and Nigeria are better placed than ever to face and contribute to. Africa is clear that it is ready to embrace the digital revolution to stimulate economic growth. But it will depend on our community of enthusiasts, policymakers, regulators and IXP companies working together to create these key local traffic anchors, “says Michuki Mwangi, Internet Technology and Development Senior Head of The Internet Society (Internet Technology & Development).

The rapid speed of internet growth in both Kenya and Nigeria highlights the critics’ role in building stable and sustainable Internet eco-systems through the IXPs and accompanying infrastructure. This is a significant move forward towards the peering community’s dream 10 years ago in Africa: to ensure that 80% of African traffic is local.

One cause of the progress of Kenya and Nigeria cited in the report is the government’s adoption of policies in both countries which have made the prosperity of the Internet ecosystem easier. In addition to promoting the construction of submarine cables by various service providers, they also introduced rules on data security that stimulated trust and attracted foreign providers. Both countries have the Internet as a means of expanding their digital systems, which excel in financial, commercial and technical services. Kenya, for instance, is a 40% service economy with many key government services moving online.

Inputs from Internet Society (ISOC)

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