#Article (Archive)

MOICI unveils Internet Exchange Point

Jul 15, 2014, 11:39 AM | Article By: Njie Baldeh

The Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MOICI) under the African Union Commission (AUC) African Internet Exchange Services (AXIS) Support Project Saturday unveiled the country’s first-ever Internet exchange point.

This was a project initiated in collaboration with local telecoms operators and Internet service providers, and the launching ceremony was held at GAMTEL’s Serrekunda Exchange premises along Kairaba Avenue, where the Serrekunda Internet Exchange Point (SIXP) is located.

The SIXP establishes an internet exchange point that would keep internet traffic local, thereby reducing the pressure on costly international bandwidth.

The SIXP was officially launched by the AU Commissioner for Energy and Infrastructure, Dr. Elham Mahmood Ahmed Ibrahim, who was in Banjul to attend the ceremony, also attended by Works minister Bala Garba Jahumpa, who is overseeing MOICI.

Jahumpa in his keynote speech said national bandwidth had increased by more than 300 per cent since the commissioning of the ACE Submarine Cable in December 2012.

However, “it was still critical to establish an exchange point to minimize the burden on unnecessary international bandwidth being utilized by our local traffic, which is expensive”.

The Gambia government is aware of the role ICT plays in the economic development of the country, and has taken measures “in the area of policy and infrastructural development for ICT mainstreaming in our socio-economic development process”.

The Gambia is the fourth country in Africa supported by the African Union Commission to establish an internet exchange point, and thanked the AUC for the continued support.

Dr Ibrahim in launching the SIXP said AU leaders during their fourteenth ordinary session adopted a declaration to strengthen national programmes, and regional cooperation for the development and interconnection of broadband infrastructures, and deployment of regional government exchange points.

She cited the AU’s Programme of Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) which has in its priority action plan to establish internet exchange points.

“Africa is currently paying overseas carriers to exchange intra-continental traffic on our behalf. This is both costly, as well as an inefficient way of handling inter-country exchange of internet traffic,” she said.

It was in this context that the African Union initiated the Internet exchange system project to keep intra-Africa internet traffic within the continent, by supporting the establishment of Internet exchange points in member states and regional internet exchange points in Africa.

“Indeed, many Internet exchange points in Africa are still in their formative stages, therefore the Ministry and the IXP stakeholders will need to continue working towards adding value to the Internet exchange point we have launched,” she went on.

Meanwhile, she announced that plans are underway at the AU Commission to issue a call for proposals to select government exchange points to be supported to grow into regional internet exchanges points.

Sarjo Jallow, Gambia’s ambassador to Ethiopia and permanent representative to the African Union, also attended the ceremony in Banjul, and he reaffirmed Gambia’s full cooperation with the AUC in the development and modernization of the country.

Isatou Jah, chairperson of the national Internet Exchange Point committee said the SIXP was established on 25th July 2013 as a voluntary and non-profit charitable organization, with the goal of providing IP peering facilities for its members.

“For the past two years, the stakeholders in ICT in The Gambia, with support from the African Union Commission, ISOC, WARCIP and other International partners, have been working on establishing an Internet exchange point in the country”, Ms Jah announced.