The Internet Society (ISOC) has been working with the African Union (AU) to facilitate the African Internet Exchange System (AXIS). This AXIS project funded by the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund and the Government of Luxembourg will help keep Internet traffic in Africa internal to the continent and avoid expensive international transit costs and delay latency in routing Internet traffic through other continents. The Axis project was established by AU in 2010 while ISOC has partnered with Africa Network Information Center (AfriNIC) to make the project a reality. According to AXIS IXP Regional project, the AXIS will “reduce traffic load on upstream providers, reduce cost, increase speed, and reduce latency for inter-country exchange of traffic and enhances internet usage in the region.”
ISOC continues to stay real to its mission “to promote the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world” and has strived to take the internet to every corner of the globe. Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) enable Internet Service providers (ISPs) to exchange Internet traffic between their networks thus reducing the ISP’s traffic that must be delivered through upstream transit providers therefore reducing the cost of the service. So far, Africa is increasing the number of IXPs implemented therefore reducing the consumer’s cost of data carrier transit charges. The Axis project will help spur the growth of local content, and improve local hosting initiatives within the continent. Upcoming African Internet entrepreneurs have relied on renting servers and hosting their content on datacenters outside the continent. Initiatives like AXIS will change the status quo and enable more datacenters to be setup on the continent. Other factors that have contributed to low penetration of local content in Africa include expensive electricity that power datacenters and a culture where content is not necessarily written or digitized but passed down from generation to generation through word of mouth.
Successful IXPs have been implemented in over 20 African countries with South Africa leading with five IXPs. The AXIS project has successfully launched four IXPs in Bujumbura – Burundi, Windhoek – Namibia, Mbabane- Kingdom of Swaziland, and the latest being in Serrekunda – Gambia in July 2014. Several capacity building workshops have also been held across the continent in Botswana, Rwanda, Nigeria, Egypt, and Gabon to strengthen existing IXPs.
The AXIS project aims to have 80% of Internet traffic exchanged in Africa by 2020, keeping local traffic local. This is truly one of the Africa’s Internet success stories.