The International Telecommunication Union today signed a letter of intent with the African Network Information Centre (AFRINIC) on the promotion of IPv6. The letter of intent seeks to establish a high-level framework of cooperation to carry out a number of activities to improve the implementation of IPv6, through the provision of technical assistance to African countries.
"Areas of cooperation include, among others, the development and delivery of joint capacity-building programmes and knowledge sharing," said Mr Brahima Sanou, Director of the Telecommunications Development Bureau (BDT). "Accelerating the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 is an important matter for ITU Member States and Sector Members."
"Currently, 99.4 per cent of physical objects that may one day be part of the "Internet of Things" are still unconnected," explained Mr Sanou. "Moreover, large areas of the world remain unserved or under-served by Internet connections. One of the key technologies that can enable progress in Internet connectivity is IPv6. IPv6 will ensure better and increased connectivity, better access to resources and to knowledge."
"The future of the Internet is on IPv6 and Africa cannot afford to be left behind," said Mr Adiel Akplogan, AFRINIC Chief Executive Officer. "This agreement is an important milestone in AFRINIC's cooperation with ITU. As the Internet is becoming more and more critical to our emerging economies, it is equally critical for our operators, public or private, to safeguard the Internet's future by building networks that are scalable, resilient and ready to run with the new version of the protocol - IPv6. This is the only way that we can ensure open access and a permission- less innovation capability for the millions of future Internet users coming from our region."
Since its inception AFRINIC has invested heavily in efforts in building human capital. This investment is meant to provide the knowledge and skills necessary to manage the Internet in the African and Indian Ocean region. Conducted under the ambit of capacity building, the programme is supported by AFRINIC's avowed mission "to support Internet Technology usage and development across the continent". This means that AFRINIC has made training a central part of its activities. Since 2005 AFRINIC has held almost 100 trainings and workshops in 50 countries around Africa, training more than 2 000 Engineers.
Every device connected to the Internet is identified by a unique IP address, used to route the data packets globally across the net. The current addressing system, called IP version 4, or IPv4 was deployed in 1983. However, the depletion of IPv4 addresses has been a concern since the late 1980s, when the Internet started to experience dramatic growth. IPv6 was developed to solve the crisis of IPv4 exhaustion.
Future growth of the Internet will require IPv6, with its extremely large address space — it exceeds 340 trillion, trillion, trillion (or 340 undecillion addresses). To give a more tangible idea of the scale, some have compared the number of available IPv6 addresses to the number of grains of sand on the planet.
The BDT Director and the Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) have initiated a joint project to help developing countries. The two Directors have also established a website that provides information about global activities being undertaken by relevant entities in the Internet community, for example, RIRs, local Internet registries, operator groups, and the Internet Society (ISOC).
The letter of intent was signed by Mr Brahima Sanou and Mr Adiel Akplogan at ITU Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Read full Letter of Intent (URL).