Internet Development in Africa: A Content Use, Hosting and Distribution Perspective

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering book series (LNICST, volume 275)


Although a considerable investment in broadband infrastructure has improved broadband speeds across many African countries, the reliability and performance that users ultimately receive is determined also by the interconnection between networks and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and by where the content, services and applications are hosted. Often, high latencies to remote destinations introduce significant performance bottlenecks, suggesting that, in addition to investments in higher throughput links, effort should be devoted to improving interconnection between ISPs and locating content closer to the users. By untangling the complexity of content access, use, hosting and distribution in Africa, this study offers three main contributions. First, it discusses challenges related to usage, hosting, distribution of local content and services in Africa, by developing a case on African local news websites. Second, it makes publicly available measurement data and indicators for local content use, hosting, and distribution across all African countries. And third, it provides points of policy recommendations on how to improve internet access and use, and infrastructure performance from a content perspective.


Local content Web hosting Latency Peering Content infrastructure 


  1. 1.
    Mauldin, A.: International Internet Capacity Growth Just Accelerated for the First Time Since 2015 (2018). Accessed 12 Nov 2018
  2. 2.
    Mothobi, O.: Botswana telecommunications limp a decade after policy changes (2017)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Mothobi, O.: South African data prices static for two years but consumers not flocking to cheapest product offering (2017)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Mothobi, O.: SADC not bridging digital divide, policy brief 6 (2017)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    A4AI: 2017 Affordability Report: Regional Snapshots & Country-Specific Highlights. Accessed 15 Nov 2018
  6. 6.
    Amos, I.: Is the Lack of Local Content Hindering Internet Adoption in Afrika? (2016). Accessed 15 Nov 2018
  7. 7.
    Chetty, M., Sundaresan, S., Muckaden, S., Feamster, N., Calandro, E.: Measuring broadband performance in South Africa. In: Proceedings of the 4th Annual Symposium on Computing for Development, p. 1. ACM (2013)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    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
  9. 9.
    Chavula, J., Phokeer, A., Formoso, A., Feamster, N.: Insight into Africa’s country-level latencies. In: AFRICON 2017, pp. 938–944. IEEE (2017)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Formoso, A., Chavula, J., Phokeer, A., Sathiaseelan, A., Tyson, G.: Deep diving into Africa’s inter-country latencies. In: IEEE INFOCOM 2018 - IEEE Conference on Computer Communications, pp. 2231–2239, April 2018Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    OECD/ISOC/UNESCO: The relationship between local content, internet development and access prices (217) (2013)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Song, S.: The Internet is U-Shaped (2017)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Data Cent. Dyn. Africa Tracks the Growth of the African Colo and Cloud Markets (2018). Accessed 15 Nov 2018
  14. 14.
    Nelson, V.: MainOne to Build Three New Data Centres Across West Africa (2014). Accessed 15 Nov 2018
  15. 15.
    Bram, U.: Why Your Internet Connection is Slow Wherever You are in Africa (2015). Accessed 15 Nov 2018
  16. 16.
    Kende, M., Rose, K.: Promoting local content hosting to develop the internet ecosystem. ISOC report (2015)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Poese, I., Uhlig, S., Kaafar, M.A., Donnet, B., Gueye. B.: IP geolocation databases: unreliable? ACM SIGCOMM Comput. Commun. Rev. 41(2), 53–56 (2011)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Shavitt, Y., Zilberman, N.: A geolocation databases study. IEEE J. Sel. Areas Commun. 29(10), 2044–2056 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© ICST Institute for Computer Sciences, Social Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research ICT AfricaCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.University of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  3. 3.AFRINICEbeneMauritius

Personalised recommendations