The 2018 edition of the Africa Internet Summit was recently held in Dakar, Senegal (29 April to 11 May 2018). Enrico Calandro and Sarah Kiden (Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellow) presented findings from RIA’s Broadband Performance and Internet Measurements research project at the Summit.
The Summit is an annual, regional, multistakeholder ICT conference on Internet governance in Africa organized by the African Network Information Centre (AFRINIC) – the Regional Registry for Internet Number Resources serving the African region – and the African Network Operators Group (AfNOG) – which aims at building the capacity of engineers who operate Internet infrastructure in Africa. According to meeting statistics, over 500 people from 60 countries attended the Summit.
Among other sessions, the sessions where RIA had an active role were:
- Internet Measurements workshop: The whole-day workshop was aimed at providing participants with hands-on training on tools and techniques for conducting Internet measurements, focusing on RIPE Atlas and perfSONAR. A case study of broadband performance in Uganda was presented by Sarah.
- Panel discussion – An investigation into the factors affecting Internet performance in Africa: a throughput, latency and content hosting analysis. The aim of this discussion was to provide longitudinal empirical data on latency, broadband performance and content hosting across the African continent. The panel was comprised of RIA and AfriNIC researchers, Internet experts running Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), content providers and other operators interested in measurements.
Research results presented during the panel discussion revealed that in terms of throughput trends, while some African countries and regions were performing better than others, the overall observation was that latency has generally improved in the continent and packet delays have reduced. Nevertheless, differences still persist across countries. In terms of content hosting – specifically for top African local news websites – a big percentage of the content is hosted outside the continent.
The research was well received, and there was a general agreement among panellists and participants that regulatory and policy aspects were key in ensuring that investments in infrastructure positively affect throughout and latency trends in the region.