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By NBF News
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African Union plans to reverse the annual $600 million fees paid western nations for rerouting inter-African internet traffic through the establishment of local Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) that will localise traffics across the continent.

In a project dubbed the African Internet Exchange System (AXIS), AU has appointed the Internet Society (ISOC) to propagate Internet exchange points (IXPs) throughout Africa. The AXIS project announced at the Internet Society's annual African Peering Interconnection Forum, said community mobilisation and technical aspect workshops would be used to support the establishment of IXPs in AU member states.

The two bodies plan to implement measures to ensure that 70 per cent of African traffic could be exchanged locally by 2020. The two bodies partnered on a three-year $6.4 million AXIS project, scheduled to kick-start later this year. Funded by the Euro-Africa infrastructure fund and the Government of Luxembourg, the aim of the AXIS project is to keep Africa's Internet traffic within the borders of the continent, by providing capacity-building and technical assistance to establish national and regional IXPs in Africa.

Moctar Yedaly, head of the information society division of the African Union Commission, said Africa was paying overseas carriers to exchange local traffic, a 'costly and inefficient way of handling inter-country exchange of Internet traffic'. The AXIS project will see the two entities conduct community mobilisation and technical aspect workshops in 30 of the AU member states that don't have Internet Exchange Points (IXP's).

Karen Rose, senior director for strategic development and business planning, Internet Society  said that the majority of the one per cent internet traffic exchange is shared between three African countries, namely Egypt, Kenya and South Africa. The latter makes up 79 per cent of the continent's internet traffic. It said as countries establish their own IXPs, Internet traffic will be routed locally - lowering costs and stimulating growth in and distribution of local Internet content.

'Through the AXIS project, the interests of the AU and the Internet Society, working with other African Internet organisations such as the African Network Information Centre, African Network Operators' Group and Africa Top Level Domains Organisation, will be realised to assist in the development of a more locally operated and, hence, more robust and economically accessible pan-African Internet,' Rose stated.