The Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) Deputy Director Corporate Communications, Aaron Nyelesi, has commended initiatives to establish Regional Internet Exchange Points (RIXP’s) and other peripheral interconnections because of the tremendous amount of potential boost to regional trade, dissemination content speed and lower transmission tariffs.
Nyelesi said when fully functional, RIXP’s would make more savings from the intra-regional Internet connectivity than previously from traffic routed through the first world higher tariff zones policy frameworks.
“RIXP’s will benefit Botswana through regionalization of high bandwidth on the African continent given the economies of scale for upping investment, capacity building, employment and expertise training opportunities,” he said.
“We could also tap more deeply into the underutilised broadband optic fiber networks such as the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSY) and of late the West African Cable System linking Africa to the Arab, Asian and Far East, and Europe and the Americas, respectively. The challenge is for countries like Botswana to absorb this excess capacity and lower the connectivity costs.”
Nyelesi was speaking in an interview following the just ended SADC Regional Internet Exchange Point (RIXP) and Regional Internet Carrier (RIC) Workshop 5-day Workshop in Gaborone, a first in Botswana’s ICT history.
BOCRA established through the 2012 Act has taken over the issuing of licences for Broadcasting, Telecommunications, Internet and Postal Services from the Botswana Telecommunications Authority.
African Union (AU) Commission Directorate of Development Corporation official Moses Bayingana said the organisers SADC and AU have planned a series of RIXP/RIC Workshops as a build up to the selection of National Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) that will grow into Regional IXPs.
Echoing Bayingana, Nyelesi added that the process involves facilitating the development of regional interconnection policy frameworks, implementing mentorship and capacity building programmes to empower the Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) and take advantage of regional interconnections.
“In the same vein, the African Internet Exchange System (AXIS) Project will support the establishment of National IXP and RIXP to promote intra-Africa internet traffic to be local within the continent,” Bayingana said.
“The AU Commission has signed an agreement with the Lead Financier, the Luxembourg Development Agency for the implementation of the African Internet Exchange System project funded by the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund and the Government of Luxembourg.”
Executive Secretary of the Communication Regulators’ Association of Southern Africa (CRASA), Antony Chigaazira, said Internet traffic ultimately will not need to leave the continent as regional routing maintains traffic within region.
Removal of trade barriers, low cost, fast, and reliable access to internet will be some of the tangible benefits. Research has, however, proved reliance on international backhaul for internet access is both costly providing poor technical solutions and ultimately a barrier to mass take up.
CEO and Executive Secretary, Southern Africa Telecommunications Association (SATA) Jacob Munodawafa said US$ 172M is required to cover the cost of structured as digitisation of analogue links and all Fibre Optic Broadband Network; to name but a few.
Local ISP PC Computers Managing Director, Phutego Chere, says the Workshop promotes ISP at regional level to share information through Regional Internet Exchange Points (RIXP’s).
Internet will perform faster because regional content, news websites will upload faster since there is no need for routing through Europe. There will be a significant reduction in time disparity and cost on an international bandwidth.
Commenting on the just-ended workshop, US-based Internet Society Director Development Strategy, Jane Coffin, said her company is very keen to help build the Internet infrastructure and technical capacity in Africa.
“We are fortunate to have great partners like the AU, CRASA, SADC and SATA. Through partnerships we can help build the African Internet, train more African experts and help grow Africa’s economic base.”
According to Coffin, Internet Society is a global non-profit entity dedicated to promoting an open, accessible and interoperable Internet. Its expert teams help build more capacity in Africa so that the continent can keep its traffic in Africa.