Countries in the greater Eastern Africa region are in the process of establishing a regional Internet Exchange Point (EAIXP).

Delegates from Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda converged in Nairobi for the Eastern Africa Interconnection Policy and Regulatory Framework workshop. The workshop will determine ways internet traffic within the region will be kept local.

The initiative is a collaboration between the East African Communications Organization (EACO), African Union African Commission (AUC), the East African Community (EAC) and the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) among others.

Speaking at the Workshop, ICT Principal Secretary Joseph Tiampati said a regional IXP will reduce the costs of internet and at the same time spur business in the region. He added that Kenya has already made significant steps towards the realization of the goal. “In a bid to support the growth of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) within the country and beyond, the government of Kenya has already put in place several measures to promote the growth of electronic, commerce and by extension, the growth of e-government services,” Mr. Tiampati said.

Kenya has already developed National Broadband Strategy which supports the deployment of local and regional infrastructure and connectivity, to enhance the performance capabilities of local IXPs.

 

The Authority’s DG, represented by Eng. Leo Boruett, Director Multimedia Services, said the transmission of local Internet traffic through international links such as Europe and United States has made the costs prohibitive. “I am therefore confident that the proposed regional Internet Exchange Point will be a simple, virtual resource and an efficient means of achieving interconnection among East African countries and equally aid in keeping regional internet traffic local,” said Eng. Boruett. 

According to EACO Executive Secretary Mr. Hodge Semakula, the implementation and success of the initiative will ensure digital inclusion for people in the region and the greater African continent.

The workshop is a follow up to the Regional Internet Exchange and Regional Internet Carrier Workshop that was held in Kigali, Rwanda in May this year, which resolved to develop a policy and regulatory framework that will facilitate regional interconnection.

All Eastern Africa countries except Burundi have national IXPs and as such, there would be need to harmonise various national policies to enable the implementation of a regional IXP.

A regional IXP is expected to reduce Internet connectivity costs, address challenges brought by connectivity latencies, as well as improved and proper management of cyber security incidents.

The East African Community is also currently implementing the East African Broadband Information Network (EAC-BIN) which is intended to achieve national and cross border broadband connectivity within the East African region.