ICT Africa Headline News

Africa: Google Donates U.S.$44.1 Million to Bring Internet to More Africans

11 March, 2013
Dennis Mbuvi, CIO
March 11, 2013

A fortnight ago, Google announced that it had donated Ksh. 265.67 million to the Network Startup Resource Centre (NSRC) and another KSh. 111.4 million to the Internet Society(ISOC).

The donation to NSRC will go towards capacity building aimed at bringing network engineering experience to universities across Sub Sahara Africa. Also to benefit are National Research and Education Networks (NREN). The money will go towards building of labs, funding of a train-the-trainers program that will teach skills to experts who will then re-teach the same to staff in educational and research institutions. "NSRC will provide hands-on training on campus network planning, deployment, and management for over 600 university and NREN staff. Their work will bring the Internet to students and staff at over 50 institutions and increase network engineering know-how in Sub-Saharan Africa," says Jennifer Haroon a Principal at Google's non-profit arm, Google.org

The Kenya Education Network (KENET) is one such is NREN and is an Internet Service Provider dealing exclusively with universities, colleges and research institutions in the country such as the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) . KENET currently connects 62 institutions, providing 1,350 Megabits per second of Internet connectivity to 94 campuses.

KENET recently announced the setting up of Africa's first Measurement Lab in collaboration with Google. The lab will help Internet users and researchers test their broadband connections, measure their Internet speeds and the quality of their Internet connections. The tools are available here http://measurementlab.net/measurement-lab-tools

Google's donation to ISOC will go towards creating and improving Internet Exchange Points(IXP) in emerging markets. IXPs provide a mechanism for Internet Service Providers to exchange traffic headed to each other's network, saving them the cost that would have been required to carry the same traffic overseas to a point where the two ISPS "meet". The local traffic exchange also provides for faster Internet access to the content as ISPs tend to have faster connectivity for content hosted locally. The Kenya IXP connects most ISPs in the country and a few institutions such as Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). ISP therefore do not have to carry traffic between their users and KRA outside the country, saving them on the cost of international capacity.

KIXP currently connects 28 members who exchange about 650 Megabits every second resulting in 6,855 Gigabytes of data exchanged every day (about 9,800 movie files in a day).

Google hopes that the two initiatives it is funding will bring the Internet to more people in emerging countries.

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