Africa: The continent must collaborate to facilitate access to the Internet – Experts
Affordable and easily accessible Internet in Africa remains a challenge in most countries, mainly due to the lack of collaboration between nations and technology players in this space.
To address the challenges, tech giants, internet experts and government officials from Africa and beyond are in Kigali for a four-day meeting of the 11th edition of the Africa Forum on Peering and Interconnection (AfPIF) to harmonize strategies that will enable Africa to bridge the digital divide and have a cheaper Internet.
The meeting was jointly organized by the Internet Society and the Rwanda Internet Community and Technology Alliance (RICTA).
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, Yves Iradukunda, said access and use of broadband internet had a profound impact on the improving service delivery in all sectors of the economy.
This, he said, impacts people’s quality of life.
“Today’s use of the Internet enables better learning outcomes, health care delivery, better management of our energy resources, and increased citizen engagement with governments,” he said. -he declares.
Iradukunda also pointed out that over the last decade, Rwanda has invested heavily in the deployment of broadband connectivity, which has been a catalyst for the accelerated development and expansion of e-services for communities, the provision of services and promotion of the cashless program.
“To encourage adoption, Rwanda is revising the broadband policy with the aim of creating additional opportunities and putting in place other instruments to harness broadband penetration from the supply and demand side of the ecosystem,” said Iradukunda.
However, Africa still faces some challenges and, according to the Permanent Secretary, the region’s low infrastructure deficit, especially in digital infrastructure, remains a major obstacle to realizing the vision of connecting all African citizens to the Internet.
“The digital divide prevents society from reaping the benefits of information and communication technologies. In this context, actions to promote physical access to the Internet are still necessary, but they are insufficient to establish a society of the truly inclusive information.
Experts at the meeting are also discussing how they can accelerate local traffic exchange through Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) to reduce Internet access costs and network delays and increase network speeds. access to content.
According to Michuki Mwangi, Senior Director of Internet Technology and Development at the Internet Society, one of the biggest challenges facing Africa as a continent is that much of the traffic consumed was or still is from outside of Africa, which is expensive.
“To address this, there is a need to work with all stakeholders to make content available locally and build an infrastructure that will enable Africa to have content shared locally. This impacts cost, resiliency of internet infrastructure and improves end-user experience,” said Mwangi.
In her remarks, the CEO of RICTA, Grace Ingabire Mwikarago, noted that the traffic exchanged within Africa has grown enormously in recent years, thanks to the efforts of different committed actors.
She pointed out that the forum intends to increase the accessibility of global networks through peering and keep 50% of traffic locally.
“To realize such a vision, the participation of all players in the Internet ecosystem is necessary. However, there are still significant challenges to be overcome in order to achieve sustainable, efficient and profitable networking on the continent.
Many of these challenges are specifically related to the lack of grid interconnections between many countries in Africa, especially landlocked countries,” she said.
The four-day meeting attracted over 300 delegates seeking to expand and develop the African Internet.
They are also studying ways to connect Internet infrastructure, services, and content providers to identify ways to improve network interconnection, reduce the cost of connectivity, and increase resilience and Internet experience for local users.