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NAPAfrica 3Tbps milestone driven by growth in Africa’s digital economy

by Anthony Weaver

On the evening of 15 February, NAPAfrica, the African continent’s largest Internet exchange point (IXP), reached the 3Tbps traffic threshold. This peak in Internet traffic was experienced globally on the back of some significant new gaming releases and software updates.

This increase in  NAPAfrica’s average traffic throughput has continued and peaked at 3.44Tbps on 19 March. The continued surge in data traffic is largely thanks to a dynamic African Internet community who have embraced the value of peering, the increasing use of data-intensive applications, enterprises continuing to move into the cloud, and ever-increasing demand for video, content, and gaming delivery services. These trends have driven greater traffic levels between cloud and service providers, enterprises, and end users. Internet traffic has surged 70% over the last 19 months since NAPAfrica reached 2Tbps in July 2021.

“Reaching the milestone of 3Tbps throughput reflects the rapid growth and a new reality of an escalating demand by enterprises for content and cloud services via NAPAfrica,” says Michele McCann, Head of Platforms at Teraco. “What started as an idea to assist global content investment to African shores, while also improving latency, has emerged as a leading interconnection hub, increasing and shaping access to the Internet across the continent.”

The arrival of new substantial undersea cable systems over the last few years, including 2Africa, Equiano, METISS, and ACE, provides Internet access to over one billion people. These subsea cables connect Africa to Europe and have landed at various sites in South Africa. The substantial increase in Internet capacity will become a major catalyst driving the African digital economy.

Enterprises looking to expand into Africa can accelerate their expansion plans by partnering with the right infrastructure providers as businesses commit to moving more of their functions to the cloud. Increased investment by global cloud providers is driving wider availability of Internet-based digital services across Africa.

Most businesses operating in larger African economies prefer a hybrid cloud approach to their IT infrastructure, allowing them to select the most suitable workload solution, avoid large capital expenditure by moving from capex to opex, and better control their data. This includes the adoption of Everything as a Service (XaaS), which allows businesses to increase operational agility by deploying IT infrastructure without waiting for physical hardware to be deployed.

NAPAfrica has become an organisation’s cornerstone, supporting their Internet and communication needs and cloud adoption strategies. The continued investment into critical telecommunications infrastructure in Africa has contributed enormously to the growth of NAPAfrica, as has the continent’s demand for content and cloud services, like Microsoft Azure and AWS.

Enterprises are leveraging the benefits of peering by connecting with cloud deployments, networks, security providers, and content providers within the NAPAfrica ecosystem as part of their move to a digital economy. Increased demand on networks to service remote users has driven the adoption of key cloud and security applications. These include Akamai, Amazon, Cloudflare, Microsoft, and Zscaler.

Established in 2012, NAPAfrica today has over 550 members actively peering and has grown to become Africa’s biggest Internet exchange and the seventh largest globally by the number of members and plays a pivotal role in transforming Africa’s Internet access and interconnection.

About Teraco

Teraco, a leading carrier-neutral colocation provider in Africa, is the first provider of highly resilient, vendor-neutral data environments in sub-Saharan Africa. With its world-class data centre infrastructure and network-dense ecosystems, Teraco forms a vital part of the African Internet’s backbone and is essential to the modern enterprise’s digital transformation strategy. Teraco is part-owned by Digital Realty (NYSE: DLR) – offering customers a global data center platform designed to enable digital business to scale within a highly connected data community across 300+ data centers in 50+ metros and 27 countries on six continents – and a consortium of private equity investors, including Berkshire Partners LLC and Permira. For more information, please visit teraco.co.za or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

About NAPAfrica

Home to global content from carriers, cloud, content delivery networks (CDNs), ISPs, Internet security as a service and gaming platforms, NAPAfrica is the continent’s aggregation point where content meets end users. In a world where the ease of interconnection, seamless peering arrangements and platform reliability are essential, the NAPAfrica Internet exchange delivers. NAPAfrica operates Internet exchange points (IXPs) within Teraco’s Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg data centres that service the Southern Africa region. The IXP’s founding goal is to help make Internet access more accessible for Africa. With more than 560 member ASNs, from over 50 countries, NAPAfrica is the largest Internet exchange on the African continent, the 7th globally by number of peering participants and 8th globally by way of peak traffic. Members are encouraged to participate in online discussions and meet at technical roundtable events throughout the year.

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