Dr. Gift Kallisto Machengete, POTRAZ Director General
POTRAZ hosted a National Internet Exchange Point (IXP) breakfast meeting this morning, and as someone who normally attends events just to take photos, I was thrown in the fray as not only was I the designated cameraman but had to double as the note-taker (and, is it ‘treble’?, as the attendant asking questions and seeking clarity).
I wouldn’t say I was thrown in the fire, but I had to find my footing rather quickly and I’m happy to advise that not only did I survive, but I came out with some take outs to share.
- Don’t expect an event to start on time when a Government official is listed as a speaker. For some strange reason, even with events we’ve held, officials somehow love to take attendants at ‘hostage’ and make you wait. Not only do they do that but after waiting, not only will they be late but it won’t be the person that was initially penciled to talk and you’ll get someone else that will stand in. Sad to note this when it was a POTRAZ (an industry regulator) event, what more if it was someone else hosting the event?
- For some relief, the stand in person was up to the task and not only did they present well, but were well and capable of engaging in dialogue during the Q and A segment, something that seldom happens.
- POTRAZ won a tender in 2015 to launch a regional internet exchange point, the $200,000 that came with winning that tender was only released in September 2016, hence the delay of progress thus far.
- Five other countries won tenders, two in each region (South Africa and Zimbabwe in SADC, Kenya and Rwanda in East Africa and Nigeria and Gabon in West Africa) of which Kenya and South Africa are the only one’s to have launched due to them having received their funding in the first round of tenders, in 2015.
- POTRAZ will chip in with an extra $50,000 to cover incidentals.
- The Government of Zimbabwe fully supports the initiative as it wants the costs of delivery of the internet to come down and for the speed of delivery to increase.
- No mobile network operator attended the event or had direct representation, though when Techzim raised concern about this, we were advised that the suppliers of internet to the MNOs were present (the IAPs), hence indirect participation was taking place.
- It was revealed that ZINX was not established by all the ‘internet service providers’ (I use this term broadly and not making reference to how we use it in the industry) for all. This initiative is aimed at creating an all inclusive IXP that will have a management committee comprising representatives from the following stakeholder groups to oversee the operations of the IXP:
- Internet Access Providers
- Internet Service Providers
- National Research and Education Networks (NREN)
- Mobile Network Operators
- Web hosting Companies
- Government Departments (for e-Government – Ministry of ICT Posts and Couriers Services, GISP – Government Internet Service Provider, OPC – Office of the President and Cabinet, ZIMRA – Zimbabwe Revenue Authority
- ccTLD operator – TelOne
- The provisional name that is being proposed for the National Internet eXchange Point is the Zimbabwe Internet eXchange Association – ZIXA.
- ZIXA will be formed by way of a constitution that will be agreed by its membership. This organisation will be self managed and neither Government nor POTRAZ will interfer with how it will be run
- Running costs of the IXP will be covered through joining fees and monthly subscriptions paid by members.
- The proposed location of the exchange is at Harare TelOne Exchange Building as it met the following requirements:
- Proximity to the networks of the potential members (fibre links)
- Availability of reliable electric power, including a backup generator
- Availability, capacity and reliability of telecommunication links to the site
- Access to fibre facilities and rights-of-way
- Ease of access (independent 24x7x365 access for IXP member staff)
- Quality of security
- TelOne is only providing space and will not run the IXP
- The association and exchange should be set up by 15 May 2017.