Nigeria Still Lags Behind in Internet Protocol Distribution

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Emma Okonji

African record on Internet Protocol (IP) distribution has revealed that Nigeria is lagging behind other African countries like South Africa and Egypt.

Statistics from African Network Centre (AFRINIC), which is the regional internet registry for Africa, placed Nigeria behind South Africa and Egypt for internet resources distribution on Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4), which was declared exhausted by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

The exhaustion of IPv4 in assigning internet names and numbers, led to the campaign for the adoption of the next version of IP address, called IPV6.

Again, the IPV6 prefixes issued by country, also placed Nigeria behind South Africa. While South Africa was issued 177 slots, which is about 26 per cent, Nigeria was allotted 34, which is about 8 per cent. Nigeria is however closely followed by Kenya 31, at 7 per cent and Malawi, which is the least, having 9 slots which is about 2 per cent.

In order to create further awareness on the adoption of IPV6 in Nigeria, AFRINIC, in collaboration with the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA); the Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and the University of Ibadan, held a workshop last week in Lagos, where they urged the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and content producers in Nigeria to hasten up the migration from IPV4 to IPV6 in order to further deepen internet penetration in the country. The move, it was gathered, was to enable Nigeria garner more population of internet users and increase her chances of getting more slots in the allocation of internet resources for the region.

NiRA’s President, Rev. Sunday Afolayan, said the new internet protocol, IPv6 would open a pool of Internet addresses that is about a billion-trillion times larger than the total pool of IPv4 address which he said is about 4.3 billion addresses. He explained that the number of IPV6 is virtually inexhaustible for the foreseeable growth of the domain name system due the opening of the new domain name and the emerging Internet of Things (IoTs).

“Most developing countries of the world have already embraced IPv6, competing for positions in the global ranking on IPv6 adoption. Major content producers such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, have all adapted IPv6 giving the opportunity to IPv6 networks access to their content,” Afolayan said.

ICANN has been contracted by the Department of Commerce of the United States to fulfill the function of the Internet Assigned Name and Number Authority (IANA). The IANA function was designed to ensure a coordinated and transparent management of internet numbers parameters for a seamless operation of the internet and to continuously strive for the enhancement of its resilience, capacity and performance.

The IP address space is therefore managed by IANA globally, and by five other regional internet registries, including Africa, responsible in their designated territories for assignment to end users and local internet registries, such as Internet Service Providers.

IPv4 provides approximately 4.3 billion addresses, which have been distributed by IANA to regional internet registries in blocks of approximately 16.8 million addresses each. But Nigeria is lagging behind in the distribution of internet resources, occasioned by limited number of internet registration from the country, when compared with other countries in other regions.

The IPv6 is the next generation of the Internet Protocol that is in various stages of deployment on the internet. It was designed as a replacement for the current version IPv4, that has been in use since 1982 and is in the final stages of exhausting its unallocated address space.