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Growing the Internet 23 June 2020

Explainer: What is Eighty For Africa?

Like buying your food locally, and reducing how much you fly, getting your digital content locally also reduces the strain on the system. It allows the Internet to function more smoothly.
When local Internet traffic travels locally rather than having to pass through an international transit point, the cost of access goes down.

What is the Vision? 

In 2010 the Internet Society joined with the African Internet community to set an ambitious vision: that 80% of Internet traffic in Africa should be exchanged locally, and only 20% routed from outside the continent. 

Reaching this target will increase the quality of Internet access and make it cheaper too. In turn, that will benefit economies in Africa and will make it easier for people to access information and services. In 2014, the African Union put its weight behind this vision which helped accelerate the interconnection of African networks.  

Why It Matters

With the reality of the stay-at-home economy upon us, reliable and affordable Internet access is more important than ever. 

In Africa, too much of our Internet traffic has to travel too far. This can happen because of a lack of infrastructure. So an email to your next-door neighbour might have to travel across countries or continents before it arrives. 

It’s slower and costs more. 

By keeping local traffic local, Internet access is faster, cheaper, better, and creates more opportunities for everyone.

How to Get There

Internet exchange points (IXPs) are one of the key ways that traffic can be routed locally rather than internationally. An IXP is essential technical infrastructure where networks come together to connect and exchange Internet traffic.

A 2020 report, Anchoring the African Internet Ecosystem: Lessons from Kenya and Nigeria’s Internet Exchange Point Growth, shows how Kenya and Nigeria went from 30% to 70%  locally exchanged traffic in just eight years by using IXPs. The report is a blueprint for how other countries in Africa can do this.

Building a successful IXP is not just a technical engineering job – time and effort needs to be invested in developing trust, common understanding, and mutual agreements in the local community. If you would like to join the Internet Society in its work on IXPs, we would love to have you.

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