NAPAfrica, Africa's neutral peering exchange has reached a record-breaking peak of 15Gbps, reportedly making it the largest Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in Africa. NAPAfrica is housed within each of Teraco's vendor neutral data centre facilities in sub-Saharan Africa.
Michele McCann, business development manager for NAPAfrica says that the growth of this African IXP has been nothing short of phenomenal: "It was launched in March 2012, and by December 2013 traffic was peaking at 5Gbps. In a little over two years, NAPAfrica has outperformed other leading IXPs by achieving double-digit growth. This rapid adoption by the market proves that peering exchanges are a much needed facility in the African Internet ecosystem."
She says that peering in Africa not only makes the Internet more affordable, but that IXPs play a key role in advancing the development of the internet ecosystem. "IXPs such as NAPAfrica help to deliver a lower cost and superior usage experience for the consumer, which in turn drives demand for the industry as a whole."
"Peering is not new," reminds McCann. The practice of ISPs, backbone providers and content providers exchanging traffic directly - either for money or for free - has been in existence for many years. "This interconnection and exchange encourages the local routing of domestic or regional traffic and in doing so, reduces costs and improves performance. In reaching 15Gbps, NAPAfrica has just proven yet again that the IXP model works and makes a positive contribution to the internet economy of Africa."
The role of the IXP in Africa will continue to grow in importance as the internet increasingly globalises and interconnection between networks, content providers and users become even more critical: "Consumer demand for services with increased bandwidth requirements will continue to surge with lower tolerance levels for latency," says McCann.
The reason for the growth of IXPs such as NAPAfrica mirrors that of more developed markets. These include: increasing Internet usage, development of mobile technologies, improving national connectivity and growing access to international connectivity.
McCann credits the growth of NAPAfrica to its impressive community: "We are very proud to have in our peering community five of the largest content providers globally. NAPAfrica has 140 members across its three Internet Exchange Points."
Internationally IXPs are known for the value they bring in terms of the development of the Internet ecosystem. McCann says this acceptance and understanding has been slow to develop in Africa: "Up until now, Africa has been lagging, mostly because of a lack of understanding of the IXP role and what benefits it can provide. The growth of NAPAfrica is a significant proof point that Africa is not playing catch-up, it has already arrived."