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AFRINIC IPv4 Exhaustion Phase 1

On 3 April 2017, AFRINIC's available pool of IPv4 address space reached a point where we have to start allocating or assigning addresses from the"final /8" (pronounced "slash eight"). This triggered Exhaustion Phase 1 as defined in the IPv4 Soft Landing policy, which appears in  section 5.4 of the Consolidated Policy Manual.  Accordingly, the requirements for AFRINIC to allocate or assign IPv4 address space have changed.

This is an event that has been anticipated for many years.  A policy was created about six years ago to define what would happen when AFRINIC reached this milestone.  The other four Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) all passed equivalent milestones a few years ago.

As we enter Exhaustion Phase 1, criteria for AFRINIC members to be eligible to qualify for IPv4 resources change, as follows:

  • No more than one /13 may be allocated or assigned at any one time;
  • The amount of space covered by an application must be based on no more than eight months projected future growth (previously 12 months);
  • When applying for additional space, at least 90% of the previous space must already be used in an efficient way (previously 80%);
  • Address space to be used outside the AFRINIC service region must be only for the purpose of  supporting connectivity back to the AFRINIC region; for example, members may have equipment at exchange points outside the region, but may not use AFRINIC address space for customers outside the region.

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Need for IPv6

The Internet is too large to run on IPv4.  The entire IPv4 address space is not enough to give even one address to every person on earth, but IPv6 has enough address space for each person to have millions of networks, where each network may have an almost unlimited number of devices.

It is important for the future of the Internet that all network operators deploy IPv6 and offer IPv6 services to their customers.  Businesses should also ensure that their public-facing services (such as web sites) are accessible over IPv6. In the past, some African network operators were complacent about the need to deploy IPv6, apparently reasoning that AFRINIC still had plenty of IPv4 address space. That was never a good argument, and is now even less true.

Fortunately for end users, they usually do not need to worry.  Most common consumer devices manufactured in the past few years already support IPv6 and will immediately start using IPv6 as soon as network operators make it available.

IPv6 deployment status

According to Google's measurements, the proportion of users who access Google's services over IPv6 (world wide) has approximately doubled every year, from 0.25% in January 2011 to 15% in January 2017, and according to RIPE Labs measurements, 10% of users are currently able to use IPv6.  Africa is behind the global average, with only 0.25% of Internet users in Africa being able to use IPv6.

Next steps

As AFRINIC continues to allocate IPv4 space to our members, the amount of available space will continue to be reduced.  When AFRINIC's non-reserved IPv4 pool reaches 2,097,152 addresses (the equivalent of a /11), IPv4 exhaustion phase 2 will begin.  At that point, several new restrictions will take effect, as defined in the Soft Landing policy (Consolidated Policy Manual section 5.4).

AFRINIC policies for allocation and assignment of Internet number resources are developed by the community, and ratified by the Board.  Even though IPv4 exhaustion phase 1 has already started, it is still possible for policies to be changed, and some relevant policy proposals are currently under discussion.  Any interested person may join the discussions on the AFRINIC Resource Policy Discussion (RPD) mailing list, or at the next public policy meeting to be held during the African Internet Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, from 29 May to 2 June 2017.

More information

  • The "final /8" refers to the block of IP addresses from to  This block of approximately 16 million addresses was allocated to AFRINIC by the IANA in February 2011.
  • AFRINIC's "Soft Landing" policy defines the processes for management and distribution of  IPv4 space to members when the AFRINIC available pool of IPv4 space reaches one /8.  The policy was passed in 2011 and now appears as section 5.4 of the Consolidated Policy Manual.
  • Changes to AFRINIC policies are made through the policy development process. The RPD mailing list is an important venue for discussion of number resource policy matters.
  • Statistics for AFRINIC IPv4 address spaceIPv4 exhaustion, and IPv6 address space are regularly updated on our web site.
  • The Internet Society's Deploy360 programme maintains a set of links to IPv6 statistics.
  • Statistics quoted in this article were obtained from RIPE Labs and Google.
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