Africa: Internet Advances

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Apr 22, 2005 (050422)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

As of April 2005, the African continent now has its own regional
internet registry, AfriNic, with responsibility for assignment of
internet addresses within the continent. This long-awaited
development has the potential to save some $500 million in fees
paid outside the continent each year to registries in Europe and
North America. The agency, which received formal approval at an
international meeting in Argentina on April 8, is headquartered in
Mauritius, with an operations center in South Africa and back-up
facilities in Egypt.

The launch of AfriNic is one sign of the emerging maturity of
internet operations in Africa, as advances at many levels move
beyond conference talk about information technology to practical
applications. While gaps in infrastructure and equipment are still
substantial, more and more advances now depend on the human
capacity to take cost-effective advantage of those opportunities
already available.

Illustrations at one level include AfriNic (http://www.afrinic.net)
and the plans of the African Association of Internet Service
Providers (AfriSPA) to establish new data exchange points within
the continent. This week the Africa Network Operations Group
(AfNOG; http://www.afnog.org) is holding its latest training
session on network technology, in conjunction with the meeting
AfriNic in Maputo, Mozambique. At the level of applications within
countries, the operations of Schoolnet Namibia, which has provided
standard packages of internet-connected computer networks to almost
450 schools around the country in the last five years, demonstrate
what is possible.

By relying on open-source software and standard hardware
configurations refurbished in their own workshop, this non-
governmental organization working with government and other
partners has been able to keep costs low and focus on training and
sustainable services rather than just supplying equipment. Staffing
for its production workshop at its headquarters in the township of
Katutura is provided largely by unemployed youth, who receive
training and the opportunity for later employment in exchange for
their work.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a news article on the AfriNic
launch, excerpts from a 2004 report on Schoolnet Namibia, and
several additional links to related information. For additional
current information on Schoolnet Namibia, including a current list
of schools connected, see http://www.schoolnet.na.

Schoolnet Namibia's interactive Africa map puzzle is used worldwide
- test out your own knowledge at
http://www.schoolnet.na/games/map/africa.html

Other recent articles of interest on related issues include

* an April 7 press release from the African Association of Internet
Service Providers (AfriSPA), announcing the award of a contract to
establish a network of internet exchange points within Africa, to
allow transfer of data within the continent

http://www.afrispa.org/NewsDetail.asp?ItemID=9