Eastern African Regional Internet Exchange Point and Regional Internet Carrier Workshop Launched
The African Union (AU) spearheaded the launch of Eastern African Regional Internet Exchange Point (RIXP) and Regional Internet Carrier (RIC) Workshop. The launch was done on May 27th in Kigali, Rwanda. The workshop is aimed at fostering stakeholder discussion on support for the National Internet Exchange Points and Internet Service Providers to enhance the Regional Internet Carriers (RIC) and Regional Internet Exchange Points (RIXP). The end result of the workshop is to achieve of intra-Africa internet traffic which will facilitate exchange within the continent.
The workshop was made possible by a collaboration of the Department of Infrastructure and Energy of the AU Commission, Inter-Governmental Authority (IGAD), East African Communications Organization (EACO), East African Community, Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) and the Ministry of Youth and ICT. Some of the pertinent issues that will be deliberated upon includes; the slow and very expensive exchange of intra-African traffic through overseas hubs.
Hon. Minister for Youth and ICT of Rwanda, Jean Philibert Nsengimana in a welcoming remark said, “We are here to make a difference… we know where we want to go, we know how to get there, we only lack the courage to do what we ought to do to reach where we want. We need to act and address the gaps that Africa suffers from in terms of access and affordability of internet.”
The Hon. Minister also pointed out that ICT has a great potential in leading and facilitating the regional integration much faster than any other available alternatives. He also underscored the importance of smart routing of traffic and described it as a key cost component for this initiative. The workshop will run for 5 days, and will be a strategic follow up on the support that has given by the African Internet Exchange System (AXIS) project by the AU that was meant to establish the National Internet Exchange Points (IXPs).
The workshop is also expected to provide policy recommendations that will promote local hosting and peering as well as come up with an agreement on the guiding minimum criteria. That will be used in selecting the national internet exchange points that will be given the necessary support and developed into regional internet exchange points.
Head of Information Society Division of AUC, Mr. Moctar Yedaly said the following in his opening remarks, “Africa is contributing more and more to the Internet and digital economy. The African Internet Exchange System Project will contribute to bringing efficiency in the routing of intra-Africa internet traffic and hence a faster and secure exchange of internet traffic”.
Readers may be interested to know that four years back, EACO began the establishing of the East African Internet Exchange Point. Recently, it got more support from ITU, which enabled EACO to carry out an exhaustive study and came up with recommendations that outlined a phased approach process to the strengthening of the national internet exchange points. It also reinforced the establishing of the East African Internet Exchange Point.
EACO Executive Secretary said, “I am pleased to note that the African Union Commission under its AXIS project has agreed to collaborate with EACO in building the capacities of our national IXPs and establishment of a regional internet exchange system.”
In attendance at the workshop were 70 delegates hailing from the several Ministries that are responsible for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), ICT, Telecommunication Operators and Regulators. These Ministries are from the Member States of Eastern African Region of the AU, which includes: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Comoros and Burundi.