By Martin Ekpeke
Increased collaboration among telecom service providers and Internet Service providers (ISPs), including the willingness by Nigerians to produce and consume its content are the basic ingredients needed to achieve greater local internet traffic penetration.
This is the submission of Mr. Muhammed Rudman, the Chief Executive Officer of Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria, a regional exchange point for West Africa.
Rudman, while disclosing that Nigeria has achieved 40 percent localisation of Internet traffic and looking forward to increasing it to 60 percent in the next two years, argues that a concerted effort by all stakeholders can actually bring the required rise in local traffic.
This, he believes, will reduce connectivity costs as well as cost savings in millions of dollars in offshore internet bandwidth payments, which will also lead to an immediate drop in latency from 900 milliseconds to 30 milliseconds for local content.
Apart from these, Rudman, who should know also argues that localization of internet traffic will bring more revenue opportunities to ISPs, and facilitates rapid increase in local content creation and hosting at a lower cost with the attendant local skills development, employment generation and entrepreneurship.
“What we are saying is that a greater percentage of Nigeria’s Internet traffic is routed abroad before coming back to the end user. Thereby losing huge amount of money annually to international gateways. This is not good enough for us as a country. We have to ensure the localisation of traffic to get the average person at the remotest parts of rural Nigeria connected,” Rudman told Journalists in his office in Lagos, adding that localization of Internet traffic will mitigate digital divide within the country.
Asked about efforts being made to increase local Internet traffic in Nigeria and indeed Africa, Rudman stated in the past, Africa has just 18 IXPs, but this has been increased to 35 with five spread across Nigeria.
Backed by the Nigerian Communications Commission, the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) was officially commissioned in 2010. It is a physical infrastructure that allows several Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and network operators to exchange traffic between their networks.
Today, IXPN has become a regional internet exchange for West Africa with the support of the African Union Commission. This new status has made it an information hub for the region and will help not only to localize internet traffic within the region, but reduce costs and latency, at the same time unlocking the potentials for a digital economy allowing internet related businesses to thrive.
Also, in tandem with the new status, it has upgraded its infrastructure to ensure a more resilient operation in the function of connecting other foreign IXPs and ISPs and to accentuate its capacity to handle the requisite traffic.