State of IXPs/ISPAs and RXP in Africa

It is important for us to establish the principle of technological good and that is, the network laying and architecture of a regional ixp builds on national ixps and the national ixps are made up of local isps and network operators. As AfrISPA we have consulted widely within the technical, social and policy community over 5 years and the consensus is to move in this framework so am sorry we cannot do contrary. We have communicated this position extensively to the regional organs as well as the donor community and those interested in helping with this exercise.

We have followed that sermon with practical steps which over the last 3 years has being supported by the multi-donor CATIA programme lead by DFID to help isps in countries for form ispas and ixps with collaboration from government and regulatory policy bodies. We have done this with extensive collaboration of other regional institutions like AfNOG(, AfriNIC ( and other international partners like Cisco, NSRC etc (forgive me if i cant mention all of them). Today, there are 15 ixps on the content and we expect 10 more by the close of 2006 and hopefully a doubling of the total number by the end of 2007.

In 2002, there where 6 ixps in Africa and when we agreed on the above layout of how to proceed with the engineering of the African Internet Infrastructure we got support from IDRC to develop a concept paper on same then we proceeded after long long delays to develop the ungana free software application which is currently being inserted into the current ixps so that we can know the “exact” traffic on isps, ixps network in order to make a proper estimation for the regional ixp (rxp) which we call the Pan African Virtual Internet eXchange (PARVIX). PARVIX is based on a satellite interconnection platform now because of the lack of fiber to all the relevant ixps. We have however requested fiber to be used where it is available since the growth of fiber links on the continent is gaining speed. We have also made room for the use of microwave links where possible to connect the various ixps. In the long term fiber is it with satellite and microwave for redundancy. We have being actively supporting the building of fiber networks in an Open Access manner for this same purpose.

Please permit me to acknowledge the awesome response of EARPTO to this regional vision by their move to connect the Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda ixps through an RFP which seeks to empower a regional carrier in the process and this has being with direct collaboration where our various ispas in the countries are involved and our GM is part of the technical working group.

We are complimenting each other so once this happens then we use whatever resource we have for other ixps. Our 2003 EoI had two entities selected to establish a regional carrier to provide the service. We are currently in consulting with a third entity which responded later due to several delays but that does not close the options – we are ever open to anyone who wants to fit in this vision and workout the framework of how to build the African Internet Infrastructure and your constituency is no exception.

I was in lagos last three weeks and met with the Secretary General of WATRA and she was of the view that WATRA is in the process of following suit with the EARTPO example especially because they have just established the harmonization policy framework which is an essential pre-requisite to get things done. AfrISPA is set on that collaboration because we have a growing consensus in West Africa and with the collaboration of ECOWAS and UOEMA we are set to live up to it.

Having established the general operating principles and framework as well as what is going on, let me finally respond to the issue of “The Regulatory body has contacted your institution to conduct a study and finalize arrangements for the establishment of the Regional IXP. I think they did not get any response from your firm (I think the request and ToRs were in French).” I want to put it on record that we where never contacted by the regulator but rather by the PPP of Senegal and the ToR requested the establishment of an IXP not an RXP in Senegal. The request came after we had conducted an IXP workshop in Dakar under the CATIA support framework so for us the physical construction of the IXP was a logical next step.

Let me also put on record that it took us 2 weeks to respond to the letter because we where in the process of concluding the CATIA Programme and where all tied up in the field in workshops from country to country. We made all these clear in our response to the letter and requested to be given time to respond but we never got a response to those communication. The ToR suggested we get further details from local regulator and again our e-mails never got a response.

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