Namibia’s first IXP a step forward

Internet

The Namibia Internet Exchange Point (IXP), which was officially launched on Friday in the capital, should result in more secure, affordable and faster internet services in the country.

The government received support for the launch of the country’s first IXP from the African Union Commission under the African Internet Exchange Point System Program.

The IXP connects internet service providers to enable them to exchange local internet traffic between local networks and to interconnect directly in order to offer network improvement and better quality of services.

According to the Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Stanley Simataa, many other services such as video and audio streaming, video conferencing, online transactions, e-governance, e-learning and telemedicine will now be easier to access. “With this development, the ICT sector in Namibia has every reason to celebrate because a new era of localized, cost-effective and secure internet traffic has dawned. That notwithstanding, we are called upon to safeguard this infrastructure for the betterment of the livelihoods of the users,” remarked Simataa.

Namibia, like many other African countries, has been paying overseas data carriers to exchange local and continental internet traffic. Because of this scenario internet connectivity and services provided to ordinary citizens are currently very costly. In addition, this scenario is considered by many to be both insecure and inefficient in handling inter-country exchange of internet traffic.

“The presence of a domestic IXP enhances a country’s ability to build a robust domestic internet eco-system and economy. It is our belief that this IXP will begin to attract content providers, along with business, academic and government users, and thereby become the centre of a vibrant internet ecosystem in the country,” commented Managing Director of Telecom Namibia, Frans Ndoroma.

Also officiating at the launch, the Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union Commission, Dr Elham Ibrahim, noted that the Africans are now striving to build a continent driven by its own citizens. Noting that “we are still at an early stage of harnessing the power of the internet”, Dr Ibrahim said it was crucial for both the private and public sectors to add value to the IXP.

Chairperson of the IXP Association of Namibia, Schalk Erasmus, confirmed that six out of 12 internet service providers have already connected to the new IXP, while four of these are already active on the exchange point. Erasmus elaborated that thus far N$250 000 has been spent on establishing the local IXP but he said more funds would be necessary as the IXP expands.