Nigeria: IXPN’s local traffic could double over next 12 months with new content partners localizing their content

3 February 2017

Top Story

IXPN is one of Africa’s most successful IXPs and its success tells the story of how fast the Internet is developing in Africa. With Google caching video locally, the amount of traffic exchanged is considerable and looks set to double. Russell Southwood spoke to Muhammed Rudman, IXPN’s CEO about his plans.

Initially founded in 2000, the Internet eXchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) now “connects almost all major telecoms service providers, submarine cables and ISPs. And there are some content providers like Google”.

There are over 40 members including: Tara, Cobra Net, Web 4 Africa, Callink. Etisalat, MTN, NG.Com, Broadbased Communications, EK Konnect, Glo, Swift Networks, University of Lagos, Main One, Vodacom, Cyberspace, Layer3, Interconnect, Phase3, Netcom, Medallion Communications (which operates a private interconnect point), NIRA, Pan Atlantic University, iPNX, Google, Ekovolt, Simbanet, Airtel, IS and 21st Century Technologies.

IXPN has three POPs in Lagos and has sites for IXPs in Port Harcourt, Abuja and Kano. There is currently no exchange of traffic with the Lagos IXP because there are no content providers in these locations but it has recently opened a connection between the Abuja (where there are 4 members) and Lagos IXPs.

IXPN currently exchanges almost 20GBs of traffic and on this basis is the second largest IXP in Africa after NAP in South Africa. From discussions with service providers, Rudman estimates that 15-20% of their traffic is local. And although estimates vary, probably something like 60% of that traffic is generated by Google.

So how much of that traffic is from local consumption of video?:”Most of it actually comes from video. That’s the general pattern of the Internet elsewhere…Google localizing its cache has been very important. There’s a huge amount of (Nigerian) content but it’s not being hosted locally.”

IXPN is currently concluding discussions with another content provider who will sign within a week to localize their content cache. The current fight between companies like Netflix, Showmax and Amazon clearly means that this type of agreement could loom larger in IXPN’s future.

IXPN won a bid to become a regional IXP for West Africa from a tender process run by the African Union for the African Internet Exchange System (AXIS) project:”The idea is to connect the IXPs in Ghana and Nigeria first to exchange traffic regionally. There are lots of links to do that but the funding is for one year so we’re looking for sustainability models. We’ve had discussions with the two IXPs in Accra about bringing their traffic to Nigeria and vice-versa.”

Both Ghana and Nigeria have relatively rich online media sectors and significant business passes between the two countries:”We working on the (regional IXP) project and at the end of Q1 this year we’ll make a visit by Q2 we’ll have put a link in.” However Rudman observes:”Unless the content is hosted locally, it will not become local traffic.”

So how quickly will traffic on the IXP grow over the next 12 months?:”It changes quite rapidly but it could be as much as 100%, maybe even more. The localization of content is one clear driver. The Government is also trying to integrate content into the country. Devaluation is making international hosting much more expensive and we may see more providers hosting in local data centres.”

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