Four years tracking unrevealed topological changes in the african interdomain Articles uri icon

publication date

  • July 2017

start page

  • 117

end page

  • 135


  • 106

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0140-3664

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-703X


  • Despite extensive studies on the Internet topology, little is still known about the AS level topology of the African Internet, especially when it comes to its IXP substrate. The main reason for this is the lack of vantage points that are needed to obtain the proper information. From 2013 to 2016, we enhanced the RIPE Atlas measurement infrastructure in the region to shed light on both IPv4 and IPv6 topologies interconnecting local ISPs. We increased the number of vantage points in Africa by 278.3% and carried out measurements between them at random periods. To infer results that depict the behavior of ISPs in the region, we propose reproducible traceroute data analysis techniques suitable for the treatment of any set of similar measurements. We first reveal a large variety of ISP transit habits and their dependence on socio-economic factors. We then compare QoS within African countries, European countries, and the US to find that West African networks in particular need to promote investments in fiber networks and to implement traffic engineering techniques. Our results indicate the remaining dominance of ISPs based outside Africa for the provision of intra-continental paths, but also shed light on traffic localization efforts. We map, in our traceroute data, 62.2% of the IXPs in Africa and infer their respective peers. Finally, we highlight the launch of new IXPs and quantify their impacts on end-to-end connectivity. The study clearly demonstrates that to better assess interdomain routing in a continent, it is necessary to perform measurements from a diversified range of vantage points. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • african internet; ixp substrate; ripe atlas; transit; traffic localization