On the Prevalence of Boomerang Routing in Africa: Analysis and Potential Solutions

  • Assane GueyeEmail author
  • Babacar Mbaye
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering book series (LNICST, volume 249)


When an African Internet user sends a message to a friend in another country in the continent, the data travels around the world (mostly Europe and USA) before coming back to the continent. This phenomenon is called boomerang routing at the continent level. The implications of boomerang routing include: higher cost, increased delay and increased information exposure. In this paper, we use active measurement data (ICMP traceroute) from 2015 and 2016 to empirically study the prevalence of boomerang routing in Africa by focusing on the implications on cost and delay. We also discussed possible improvements of the current African connectivity map to reduce boomerang routing, which will eventually translate into reduced cost and lower delays for end-users.


Africa Boomerang ICT e-Trading Internet access cost Delay 



This work was partially accomplished under NIST Cooperative Agreement No. 70NANB16H024 with the University of Maryland. The authors thank Dr. Peter Mell (CSD/NIST) for his support (time and advice). The authors would like to thank Christopher Schanzle (ACMD/NIST) for his help in gathering the data.


  1. 1.
    McKinsey Global Institute: Lions Go Digital. The Internet’s Transformative Potential for Africa, 2013 Annual Report. Accessed 03 Dec 2017
  2. 2.
    Guerrioro, M.: The impact of internet connectivity on economic development in Sud-Saharan Africa. EPS Speaks, January 2015Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    World Bank (WB): Information and communications for development 2009: extending reach and increasing impact. 15 Dec 2017
  4. 4.
    ITU: White Paper on Broadband Regulation and Policy in Asia-Pacific Region: Facilitating faster Broadband Deployment, November 2016Google Scholar
  5. 5. by Facebook: The State of Connectivity 2015–2016: A Report on Global Internet Access Accessed 03 Dec 2017
  6. 6.
    Edmundson, A., Ensafi, R., Feamster, N., Rexford, J.: Characterizing and avoiding routing detours through surveillance states. ArXiv. Accessed 31 Dec 17
  7. 7.
    Obar, J.A., Clement, A.: Internet surveillance and boomerang routing: a call for canadian network sovereignty. In: Ross, P., Shtern, J. (eds.) Proceedings of the Technology and Emerging Media, Track–Annual Conference of the Canadian Communication Association, TEM2013, Victoria, 5–7 June 2012 (2013).
  8. 8.
    CAIDA: Macroscopic Internet Topology Data Kit. Accessed 13 Dec 2017
  9. 9.
    Maxmind geolocation service, December 2017.
  10. 10.
    The African Internet Exchange System (AXIS) Project. Accessed 24 Dec 2017
  11. 11.
    ITU: Are poor countries subsidizing the rich? The Issues of International Internet Connectivity. Accessed 03 Dec 2017
  12. 12.
    The Halfway Proposition, Background Paper on Reverse Subsidy of G8 Countries by African ISPs. In: Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Johannesburg, South Africa, 19 October 2002.
  13. 13.
    Huffaker, B., Fomenkov, M., Claffy, K.: Geocompare: a comparison of public and commercial geolocation databases. In: Proceedings of NMMC, pp. 1–12 (2011)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Fanou, R., Francois, P., Aben, E.: On the diversity of interdomain routing in Africa. In: Mirkovic, J., Liu, Y. (eds.) PAM 2015. LNCS, vol. 8995, pp. 41–54. Springer, Cham (2015). Scholar
  15. 15.
    Chavula, J., Feamster, N., Bagula, A., Suleman, H.: Quantifying the effects of circuitous routes on the latency of intra-Africa internet traffic: a study of research and education networks. In: Nungu, A., Pehrson, B., Sansa-Otim, J. (eds.) AFRICOMM 2014. LNICST, vol. 147, pp. 64–73. Springer, Cham (2015). Scholar
  16. 16.
    African Union: Study on Harmonisation of Telecommunication, Information and Communication Technologies Policies and Regulation in Africa, March 2008.
  17. 17.
    Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa. Accessed 02 Jan 2018
  18. 18.
    The African Peering & Interconnection Forum (AFPIF) 2017 Conference Report. Accessed 02 Jan 2018

Copyright information

© ICST Institute for Computer Sciences, Social Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universite Alioune Diop de BambeyBambeySenegal
  2. 2.University of Maryland, College ParkCollege ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations