Internet exchange infrastructure boom boosts African Internet growth
NAPAfrica's predicted growth will result in a 100% increase in peering traffic during 2014, says Lex van Wyk, CEO of Teraco Data Environments.
The unprecedented rise of the Internet eXchange Point (IXP) in Africa has been boosted by the exceptional growth of a home-grown peering exchange, NAPAfrica (IXP), over the past 12 months.
Housed within Teraco, the largest provider of resilient, vendor-neutral data centres in Africa, NAPAfrica has over 100 members across its exchange locations in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. The IXP has a peering throughput of over 6Gbps and is the most diverse network exchange point in Africa. It manages over 3 600 interconnects and that number is growing rapidly.
Lex van Wyk, CEO of Teraco Data Environments, says the predicted growth will result in a 100% increase in peering traffic during 2014, and will firmly position NAPAfrica as the fastest growing IXP in Africa.
Van Wyk says the presence of more IXPs on the African continent is necessary for the continent's growth. "Africa accounts for 15% of the world's total population, but only 16.3% of this population has Internet access. Already a decade behind the growth of Europe, Africa needs more IXPs to meet the growing needs of the continent."
Van Wyk says there are approximately 26 IXPs on the continent, only 18 of which are active due to resource constraints. NAPAfrica is involved in assisting several of the newly established IXPs, but these are required to grow significantly as more routes stabilise and more customers subscribe to ISP services.
An IXP such as NAPAfrica provides the necessary physical infrastructure for this growth. Now, ISPs, universities, telcos and content providers can connect with each other and exchange traffic via a peering relationship. Van Wyk says the Network Access Point (NAP) of the past is an IXP in today's terms. "The key difference is about multiple access points as opposed to just volume of traffic."
Van Wyk says the bigger 'access point' picture is of more significance. Non-profit distribution platforms such as NAPAfrica bring global content to Africa and serve African content directly to the world. "NAPAfrica is free, there are no port, interconnect or membership fees and it provides cost-effective access to content which was previously not available or very expensive."
With weighty content providers such as Akamai, Google, MWEB and Vox, Van Wyk says NAPAfrica is a global IXP, servicing South Africa but also many southern African countries, including Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Boosting local business, carriers within the NAPAfrica environment are free to connect and obtain content as well as sell services to members of the IXP.
"Teraco has created a global ecosystem for local and international business which can only bring positive growth to the continent," concludes Van Wyk.
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