A new facility that strives to break communication barriers in Rwanda and eventually across the East African region through reduced communication cost has been launched in the country.
The Rwanda Internet Exchange Point (RINEX), launched at Telecom House in Kigali, yesterday, was financed by the African Union Commission, through its flagship project, the African Internet Exchange System (AXIS).
The Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean-Philbert Nsengimana, said the plan is to continue expanding its operational capabilities and it will soon grow into a regional internet exchange point for Eastern Africa.
“Increasing the expansion of the national internet exchange point will lower communication costs and particularly accelerate the internet services delivery in the country. In the near future, we expect it to grow into a regional internet exchange point,” said Nsengimana.
Internet Exchange Point (IXP) is an infrastructure where internet service providers and content providers interconnect.
This enables local networks to efficiently exchange information at a common point within a country rather than needing to exchange local Internet traffic overseas.
For instance, at some point, one could send an email using MTN carrier and it would reach a designated Tigo carrier through external links. It would cost Rwanda $100 to transfer a single MB.
“An IXP is a component of internet infrastructure that can increase the affordability and quality of the Internet for local communities. Keeping local Internet traffic within local infrastructure means that it avoids the data routing through upstream Internet providers and hence we benefit low cost, reduced latency and good bandwidth,” the minister said.
Nsengimana said the project cost is at about $180,000 (about Rwf14.5 million) and that the expectations are high when it comes to keeping internet traffic local and strengthening of cyber security.
“As we continue increasing the speed at which services are being delivered, there’s a need for introduction of more local and sustainable solutions. This is what this facility is bringing,” said Nsengimana.
The project was funded as part of AUC’s plans to provide capacity building and technical assistance to facilitate the establishment of internet exchange points and regional internet exchange points.
Dr Elham Ibrahim, the African Union commissioner for infrastructure and energy, said RINEX is among other eight regional and 32 national internet exchange points that AUC has established.
“This is part of our long-term plans to extend capacity building support to reduce costs incurred by African countries on paying overseas carriers to exchange intra-continental traffic,” Ibrahim said.
She explained that the benefits of having such a facility are very many, highlighting Namibia as one of the examples that have benefited much from it.
“Last year, Namibia saved nearly $2 million in a year after they had established their own internet exchange point. The speed from which the data is transmitted also reduced from 300 milliseconds to two milli-seconds. This is a remarkable feat that we want others to achieve,” she said.