In a significant development for the Internet and Internet users in Sierra Leone, leaders from business, government, and the national Internet community gathered in Freetown last week to launch a new Internet exchange point (IXP). The new facility, know as the Sierra Leone Internet Exchange, or SLIX, will allow Internet service providers to interconnect and exchange local data traffic within the West African country rather than over international links. This will promote more efficient, resilient, and less costly connectivity by improving local Internet performance and reducing international bandwidth costs.
“The launch of SLIX is an important milestone for the Internet in our country,” said Ms Michala Mackay, President of the Sierra Leone Chapter of the Internet Society. “In addition to the technical benefits SLIX will bring to service providers and users, it also marks a key success in the sustained efforts by Internet stakeholders to work collaboratively in achieving our goals to extend the development and availability of the Internet for all Sierra Leoneans.”
As a result of making Internet traffic flows more efficient, IXPs can also help stimulate the broader information technology sector by encouraging the development of local content, web hosting, and related services. IXPs also stimulate general economic development by enabling individuals and organizations to access more cost-effective Internet service.
“Sierra Leone is the 19th African country to establish an Internet exchange point,” said Michuki Mwangi, Regional Development Manager for Africa at the Internet Society. “Well developed and maintained IXPs are an essential component in building a robust Internet access ecosystem, and the Internet Society is committed to assisting their growth in Africa. We are pleased to have been a part of this community partnership effort.”
The development of SLIX was facilitated by the Internet Society’s African Interconnection and IXP Programme, which aims to promote more robust Internet connections within and between countries in Africa. The four-pronged programme combines routing skills and technical capacity workshops, facilitation and assistance with new IXP deployment, the implementation of value added services at existing IXPs, and the development of regional communities of practice to promote information exchange and joint problem solving. Supplemental funding for SLIX was provided through the Internet Society’s Community Grants Programme.
The Internet Society is currently working with six African countries at various stages of IXP development and last month announced the creation of the African Peering and Interconnection Forum, to address key interconnection opportunities and challenges in the region.
The Internet Society’s Interconnection and IXP Programme is supported by the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX); the Deutscher Commercial Internet Exchange (DE-CIX), the German Internet exchange; and Netnod, the Swedish Internet exchange provider.
Further information about the role of interconnection and exchange points in Internet development can be found on ISOC’s resource pages at:
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