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Africa Internet Forum Calls for Reduced Internet Prices

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The 11th Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) opened in Kigali yesterday with tech experts calling for a further reduction in end-user internet prices and more investments in connectivity channels as local content consumption increases in Africa.

Rwanda has for the first time hosted the 2022 AfPIF, an annual event for the last 11 years which is organized by the Internet Society and the African IXP Association (AFIX).

The Kigali meeting attracted more than 300 delegates including ICT services providers, policymakers, and ICT experts.

This year’s forum focused on further reducing the cost of internet and bandwidth as figures currently show increased uptake of intra- African content compared to previous years where more content consumed was coming from Europe.

For instance, a new African Network Geography Update report presented by Patrick Christian a Principal Analyst with TeleGeography showed that Africa leads with 52% in International bandwidth growth (by region) from 2017-2021 followed by Asia- 47% against the global growth of 44%.

The report showed that Submarine cable investment is also expected to increase as investment has moved from less than $ 1 billion in 2013 to over $2.2billion in the peak year of 2020, while the COVID-19 Pandemic has informed global policy on the need to invest in the internet has also seen newly announced investments expected to hit close to $4.8billion in 2023 and stabilize back to about $2.6billion in 2024.

Findings in this report further indicate changes in sub-regional capacity connected Africa to Europe, especially while the total Africa-Europe connectivity has hovered around 80% for the past 5 years while sub-Saharan Africa’s share of connectivity to Europe has dropped to about 60%.

“This means more African content is being shared within the continent and that will be good news to drive end user’s consumption needs and a possible further reduction in costs of internet,” Christian said.

While opening the 3- day Kigali forum, this August 24, 2022, Rwanda’s Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, Yves Iradukunda said that Internet usage enables better outcomes in learning, delivering healthcare, managing better energy resources, and achieving higher citizen engagement with the Government and interconnectivity.

“More importantly it’s looking at the general population and asking ourselves whether the end user can be able to utilize the infrastructures in place to benefit from the connectivity that is becoming more available and affordable,” Iradukunda said.

Ricta CEO Grace Ingabire Mwikarago

Rwanda has made progress laying internet and broadband infrastructure but also recently put in place structures to develop the implementation of the Rwanda Internet eXchange Point (called RINEX) – with a 5- year plan currently developed by the Rwanda Internet Community and Technology Alliance (RICTA).

RICTA CEO, Grace Ingabire Mwikarago said that with RINEX, and increased internet consumption, Rwanda is positioned to attract more investments but tapping into local content to be stored in the country will enable any online services to access it.

RINEX is an interconnection point of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), data centers, and Content Service Providers in Rwanda.  So far, 14 Service Providers, Data centers, and Content Service Providers are connected to it.

In Rwanda, the international bandwidth capacity almost tripled from Q1, 2020 to Q1, 2022, from 63 Gigabits per second (Gbps) to 156 Gbps and the cost of internet has reduced.

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