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AFRINIC and AfPIF Partnership


AFRINIC has been a proud sponsor of AfPIF since 2012. In addition to sponsoring AfPIF, AFRINIC regularly contributes to the forum programme by sending staff to the event to present on topics such as Internet number resource management and traffic flow measurement. "Participation in these meetings gives AFRINIC staff better insight into how IXPs in Africa operate and how they sustain their activities," says AFRINIC CEO, Alan Barrett. "By participating in discussions on peering with the African IXP Association (AF-IX) members, they can learn about the additional services that IXPs also offer. AfPIF meetings also provide AFRINIC representatives with the opportunity to meet the IXP staff and talk about the key issues and challenges around Internet number resources that directly affect the IXP."

Reinforcing Africa's Internet

Over the years, AFRINIC's role in the Internet ecosystem has continued to evolve alongside the development of the Internet both in Africa and globally. As the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) for the region, the organisation is responsible for the distribution and management of Internet number resources (IPv4 and IPv6 addresses and Autonomous System Numbers – ASNs) for Africa and the Indian Ocean. But that's not all. "In addition to our core role as an RIR, AFRINIC strives to play a leading role in education and capacity building as well as encouraging Internet infrastructure development and reinforcement throughout the region," continues Barrett. AFRINIC's activities are being adapted to take into account the exhaustion of IPv4 address space, and changes to oversight of the organisations that coordinate the Internet's identifiers.

IPv4 Exhaustion - A Critical Issue

IPv4 exhaustion is a critical issue facing Africa. AFRINIC is now the only RIR that can still allocate IPv4 addresses in the same way as before, with all other RIRs having run out of IPv4 space or having introduced austerity measures. Fortunately, this is not an unexpected situation and AFRINIC has been preparing the organisation - and the community - for a post-IPv4 world for many years. Throughout 2015, AFRINIC allocated more than 16 million IPv4 addresses, almost the equivalent of one /8. As of July 2016, 6.5 million IPv4 addresses have been allocated by AFRINIC, leaving a total of 27 million IPv4 addresses in its free pool. "At this rate of consumption", explains Barrett, "we can expect to reach the last /8 of IPv4 space towards the end of 2016 and this is probably a lot sooner than many people anticipated. The industry really doesn't have any time to waste. I urge all ISPs to deploy IPv6 and to offer IPv6 services to customers, and I urge all end users to ask their ISPs for IPv6 connectivity."

Capacity Building and Education

Some of the organization's major current projects focus on just that: capacity building and education, especially in the field of IPv6 deployment. Barrett says that AFRINIC is dedicated to equipping engineers and government representatives throughout the region with the knowledge to deploy IPv6 on their networks through its IPv6 Training Courses - Africa's most recognised and well-respected IPv6 training - Certi::6 certification programme and various free online resources, which include an IPv6 test bed. As of July 2016, 37.6 % of AFRINIC's members have an IPv6 allocation. Barrett points out that although this is more than a third of the membership and IPv6 allocation rates are increasing steadily year on year, less than 18% of members are actually announcing an IPv6 prefix, meaning that they hold the IPv6 space but it is not being used. This is something that Barrett and his teams are working hard to improve by ensuring that the message that IPv6 deployment can no longer wait is clear and by providing world-class education, training and resources to facilitate IPv6 deployment. 

Keeping Policy in the Picture

AFRINIC holds two open public policy meetings every year in various locations throughout Africa. These meetings provide a unique opportunity for individuals and organisations from the African and global Internet industry to gather to share technical knowledge, attend plenary sessions and to attend workshops and tutorials. The policies governing Internet number resource distribution in the African region also take place during the AFRINIC meetings. You do not have to be an AFRINIC member to take part in these discussions and everyone is encouraged to have their say via the mailing list or during the Policy Development sessions (remote participation is facilitated for those who cannot attend in person).

"As we start the countdown towards our last /8 of IPv4 address space, it's now more important than ever that the all stakeholders, including network operators, mobile operators, academics, end users, governments and regulators, take part in policy development process to decide how we distribute the last of our IPv4 resources," continues Barrett. "Currently, the AFRINIC policies state that only members based in Africa are eligible to apply for resources from AFRINIC, but there is debate about the extent to which these resources may be used outside the AFRINIC region as part of a member's network. I encourage everyone to read the currentpolicies and the current policy proposals and make your opinion heard."

The next AFRINIC-25 Meeting will take place in Mauritius from 25-30 November 2016, with training and workshops being held 25-27 November and plenaries and policy development sessions being held form 28-30 November. Registration is now open. Barrett notes: “AFRINIC-25 might possibly be our last Meeting before we hit the last /8 of IPv4 address space. It's therefore vital that the community comes together to discuss the policies surrounding the allocation of our remaining IPv4 address space. So I'd like to take this advantage to invite you all to attend AFRINIC-25 and am looking forward to welcoming you all to AFRINIC's home-base, Mauritius, for a week of productive discussion on how we can future-proof our allocation policies."

Boosting Infrastructure and Stability

To further boost Africa’s critical Internet infrastructure and to improve Internet stability and resilience throughout the region, AFRINIC's Root Server Copy Project (AfRSCP) provides equipment and technical expertise to facilitate the set up of DNS root name servers at Internet exchange points (IXPs) throughout the region. As part of this initiative, AFRINIC and Morocco's Agence Nationale de Réglementation des Télécommunications (ANRT) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in March 2016 to facilitate the deployment of a copy of the L-Root DNS Root Name Server. L-Root, one of the world’s 13 Root Name Servers, is operated by ICANN. "Everyone, from Internet end users to governments, businesses, IXP operators and network engineers, benefits from having an increased number of Root Name Server copies in the region," says Barrett. "Not only do these copies increase the resilience of the Internet's domain name system, they also help to keep traffic local, mitigate some of the risks of DDoS attacks and large scale connectivity outages, decrease latency and improve access - all of which go towards supporting an open, stable, and resilient Internet in Africa."

Looking Ahead

2016 will be a pivotal year for the African Internet community and it looks likely that the IANA Stewardship Transition will be completed over the course of the year, signifying a critical turning point in the evolution of the Internet. Barrett acknowledges that his staff and the community have worked extremely hard to ensure that Africa's unique needs are taken into consideration during this process. Throughout the rest of the year, Barrett explains that his teams will continue to track the progress of the IANA Stewardship Transition, develop strategic partnerships on routing and peering, increase data analysis and statistics offerings,ramp up collaboration with the RIPE NCC on measurement and data collection projects, encourage IXP set up, offer continued support to IXP operators and facilitate AfRSCP activities. The organisation is also boosting its communications offerings as part of its commitment to keeping the community informed and encourages the community to submit ideas for guest blog posts.

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