To speed up the pace of Internet adoption, local informationa and communication technology (ICT) stakeholders have been urged to develop locally relevant internet content.
A report published on Tuesday by the Internet Society, an independent Internet information source, said as the infrastructure necessary for Internet access was increasingly becoming available, efforts to increase Internet adoption rates should now be focused on the development of local content.
The report, dubbed “Promoting Local Content Hosting to Develop the Internet Ecosystem,” used Rwanda as a case study to access the relation, between local content and internet adoption in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and ICT.
The report’s authors; Michael Kende, the Internet Society chief economist, and Karen Rose, the senior director of strategy and researcher at the Society, found evidence that development of locally relevant Internet content that is attractive to users has a positive impact on Internet adoption.
“In many developing countries and emerging regions, the vast majority of content accessed by local users is hosted abroad. As the content must traverse often expensive and sometimes under-provisioned international links, this can have a significant impact on the economics of access as well as the user experience,” the report reads in part.
“Strengthening the enabling environment for the hosting of local content has a positive cascading impact on stakeholders and the local Internet economy, including end users.”
The report said with almost all of the commercial websites in Rwanda being hosted abroad there were significantly higher costs for internet service providers to access the content.
“It cost the Rwandan Internet Service Providers approximately $13,500 (about Rwf9 million) in transit costs to deliver the content from abroad to local users. This impact is limited, however, because the web sites hosted abroad suffer from high latency, which reduces usage,” the report says.
The end effect can make the overall Internet experience slow and frustrating, with a corresponding negative impact on usage.
The report provides several examples of the positive impact on usage when Google and Akamai (content delivery cites) made content available locally in Rwanda.
For instance, Akamai recently turned on a cluster in Rwanda that increased throughput dramatically, and within two months, usage increased by 80 per cent.
Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the minister for youth and ICT, said the project has demonstrated how the Internet ecosystem in Rwanda – and other countries in a similar position – can work together to bolster the environment for local content hosting.
“Our Internet environment has seen impressive growth in recent years due to the commitment and involvement of a range of stakeholders, including an enterprising population and business community, dedicated technical community, and strong policy leadership throughout the government,” Nsengimana said.