Anthony Voscarides, Djibouti Data Center Q&A: Facilitating growth in East Africa

25 March 2014 |

Anthony Voscarides, CEO at Djibouti Data Center, talks Capacity through his hopes and expectations for the company’s new internet exchange.

Why did you see an opportunity to launch an internet exchange in Djibouti?
With 11 international fibre systems either in play or under implementation, Djibouti is a natural hub for cable systems connecting East Africa with the rest of the world. Clearly, it was visionary of Djibouti Telecom to invest in the future in this way.

The Djibouti Data Center, and by extension, the internet exchange, adds significant value to this investment and is a tool for carriers to improve their network efficiency, resilience, performance and, of course, reach.

Customers now have a clear opportunity to make better use of their cable assets and mitigate risk through better network diversity, all of which is accomplished through the multitude of choices for diverse paths offered through Djibouti.

It was clear to me some time ago that the region could benefit from local IP traffic exchange, and that this would have a very positive effect on internet penetration and consequently for economic growth across East Africa.

Internet exchanges precede any evolved internet society. We were fortunate to have such forward-thinking partners and the opportunity to implement the Juniper technology IX. The concept of the IX is supported and driven by the ecosystem of the DDC.

How will the internet exchange help facilitate the growth of traffic in the region?
Simply put, the IX enables the region to have more efficient growth of internet traffic. Any IX creates its own ecosystem and builds bridges between companies and people.

The IX will simplify and support the fast-growing regional traffic exchanges that currently must run long-haul from Africa to Europe and back, instead of staying local. The IXP keeps local traffic local, boosting performance and reducing cost structures while greatly improving the customer experience. Any reduction of latency has significant impact on the user experience and this actually leads to growth in international capacity sales, as users crave more data-demanding applications.

This concept has been proven over and over again, and we are in the fortunate position to be leading this improvement from Djibouti in East Africa.

How will the internet exchange support operators, both in the region and globally?
The IX brings opportunities for growth in IP traffic, and as regional operators come on board, we expect that more and more traffic will be routed through Djibouti, meaning international parties will be able to offer new services to this growing region.

From the network perspective, operators can plan their networks more efficiently. Network expansion and grooming using an IX brings significant cost advantages, better resilience and lower latencies.

Specifically, the local and regional operators will benefit from this internet exchange to a greater extent, for more efficient in-country communication between themselves, as well as with neighbours. Djibouti is largely neutral, and neighbouring countries can use the regional exchange very effectively as their traffic grows.

What opportunities do you see to collaborate more with operators in the Middle East?
Djibouti is an Arab League country and is the natural expansion point for Middle Eastern carriers to grow their business interests and connections into East Africa.

Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan are just a few milliseconds away from Djibouti and already Ethiopia is connected with 3 different cable systems to Djibouti, with more planned. Somalia will see much activity and growth, with plans for new cable systems in the making. We expect that South Sudan will also see significant interest soon.

We have already announced the first relationship with datamena, which creates a highway between Djibouti and the UAE. Operators can now use both data centres in tandem, to extract the maximum efficiency for their networks and reach each region more effectively.

I personally believe that both regions will benefit greatly from stronger ties, and any expansion of telecoms investments connecting these regions will naturally bring further investment and opportunity. Djibouti – with its Arabic influence, stability and safety – will clearly benefit from being the gateway to the region.

Finally, what other plans does DDC have for 2014?
The DDC’s quest is quite simple: leverage its unique access to the international cable systems that land in Djibouti for global access and aggressively expand regional connectivity to neighbouring countries.

With this vision, we plan an aggressive expansion in neighbouring countries that will enable and help our hosted customers to reach their target markets.

The DDC will be at the centre of important regional cable decisions and strategic expansions for our customers for East Africa, in the year to come and into the future.