The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), in collaboration with the private sector has concluded plans to establish a number of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) across the country in a bid to enhance internet penetration in Nigeria at a cheaper and affordable rate.
The first of such points was commissioned in Abuja recently. The second was commissioned in Port Harcourt last week. Work is ongoing on the Lagos Internet Exchange Point with the University of Lagos to have the Lagos Higher Education Connectivity Project (LHECP). The LHECP consists of about five educational institutions already connected to the exchange point as well as the Google University Access Program (GUAP), which comprises of five Universities, is also active at the exchange point.
IXPs promote local internet content which will create more jobs, provide opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship for Nigerians as the hosting industry emerges and consequently building technical skills and competencies for our teaming youths. It is the resolve of the agency to establish IXPs in all the six geopolitical zones of the country.
While commissioning the Port Harcourt Internet Exchange Point at the weekend, the NITDA Director-General, Professor Cleopas Angaye said the IXPs would be leveraged on to promote educational related ICT initiatives such as the National Research and Educational Network (NREN) cluster within Port Harcourt and its environs. He said the success of NITDA’s bid will be dependent on adequate partnership and collaboration amongst all stakeholders in addressing some challenges that may inhibit the modest progress already made.
Angaye lists one of the major challenge facing successful deployment of IXPs in the country as that of the cost of fiber transmission lines between the exchanges as well as inadequate connectivity by Internet Service Providers. The creation of the IXPs is part of the fulfilment of multi-stakeholder collaboration in terms of creating National Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) as recognised by the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS).
He said despite the obvious fact of the enormous benefits in the use of the Internet, the poor state of local Internet traffic routing in Nigeria constitutes a very significant problem of competitiveness for the nation’s economy within the globalized world.
“The major factors inhibiting a more rapid adoption and use of the internet in Nigeria are the high cost of access and low quality of service. Therefore to speed up the spread of the Internet in Nigeria, the cost of Internet connectivity and bandwidth must be reduced and the quality of service improved. One of the most effective mechanisms of achieving these is the Internet Exchange Point (IXP).
An IXP interconnects Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in a region or country, Angaye said allows them to exchange domestic Internet traffic locally without having to send those messages across multiple international hops to reach their destination. IXPs are crucial for the development of the internet in any country, as not only do they reduce the cost of internet traffic by keeping local traffic local, but more importantly, they enable additional applications, which have a considerable multiplier effect on the economy, Angaye noted.
According to him a major focus of NITDA is the development of ICT local content in Nigeria in order to enable consumers of ICT services and products and also for the country to earn foreign exchange.
Angaye said the enormous benefits of the IXPs in Nigeria include reduction in the use of foreign exchange to pay for bandwidth which translates to more money in the local economy and cheaper internet access for all consumers thereby leading to the provision of wider internet access. Another major direct benefit of this regional IXPN is Job and Wealth Creation. IXPN intends to cover the six geo-political zones in the country therefore the man power needed for the branch offices will be sourced from within Nigeria.