By Abbas Bolanle
Lagos. June 27, 2012. The Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) and Nigerian ICT Forum of Partnership Institutions Ltd have forged an alliance that fosters connection of higher educational institutions in Nigeria (HEIs) into clusters that will also deliver benefits of lower pricing of bandwidth to member-schools.
Both parties say the alliance will enable internetwork connections among Nigeria’s institutions of higher learning, foster collective bargaining to drive down present cost of internet bandwidth and promote the creation of Research and Education Networks (RENs), among others.
The IXPN-Nigeria ICT Forum alliance took effect officially on April 20, this year after both parties inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the REN clusters that serve as vehicle for the interconnection of HEIs via ICTs to promote content development and sharing among participating member institutions, according to a statement jointly issued after the pact.
The alliance comes in the wake of a similar one between the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA) and IXPN, under which the latter was outsourced the management of a part of NIRA’s Registry functions over the next five years.
Meanwhile, the Conveyor, Nigeria ICT Forum, Aminu Ibrahim says the pact with IXPN “is in line with the Forum’s mission which focuses on developing internal capacity for HEIs and cultivating a favourable policy environment that aids development.”
The Nigerian ICT Forum seeks to utilize, sustain and advance ICT networks, services and shared resources that are owned by the HEIs themselves which includes aggregation of their bandwidth, thus driving the formation of a National Research and Education Network (NREN) to the letter. Aminu adds.
Managing Director, IXPN, Muhammed Rudman, adds that the MOU vests IXPN with the responsibility of providing a national core infrastructure that facilitates internet operations in Nigeria, as well as localizing traffic and reducing local routing cost.
Some benefits of the collaboration include formation of clusters within the next two years in at least six geo-political zones in Nigeria; promotion of content development in Nigerian Higher Education Institutions and provision of lower cost of bandwidth for Higher Education Institutions. It will also conduct training and campaign awareness on the need for Research and Education Network (RENs); and mobilize support and resources towards achieving the above goals.
Rudman explains that another benefit of the collaboration is to foster synergy in their efforts towards building sustainable clusters of RENs across Nigeria.
According to him, “the collaboration will go a long way in promoting content development and sharing, thus accelerating the development of the educational sector as well as boosting the economy at large.”
In a related development, the NIRA-IXPN MoU will foster the alliance between NIRA, which manages Nigeria’s identity in cyberspace and its associated sub-level domain names and ensures cost-effective administration of the .ng Top Level Domain and IXPN that provides core infrastructure allowing several ISPs and network operators to exchange traffic between their networks locally otherwise known as peering.
The MoU enables the outsourcing of administration of some technical aspects of .ng country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) operations and ancillary services to IXPN.
Chief Operating Officer, NIRA, Opeoluwa Odusan, says both parties forged the alliance to improve the ease of access to, and availability of the .ng Registry.
The signing of the MOU formally supports the current arrangement where IXPN manages some technical operations of .ng registry while NIRA work to increase its in-house technical resources, Odusan adds.
Commenting on the initiative, Rudman says that the involvement of IXPN in the management of some technical aspect of .ng ccTLD registry operations would enhance local content creation and bring the .ng ccTLD closer to the operators and service providers.
“The operator-neutral nature of the Exchange Point provides further advantages to NIRA’s technical operations,” Rudman adds.
Under the pact signed in March, this year, NIRA is to fund the MoU while both parties have other non-funding obligations in addition to performance threshold in line with industry practice for the provision of the services, they said.