Web4Africa, a leading web hosting company, announces the launch of The Nigerian Mirror Project, a first of its type in the West African sub-region.
The Nigerian Mirror Project, which is physically hosted in Nigeria and reachable at mirror.ng, aims to drastically improve the download and availability of free & open-source software in Nigeria.
Access to bandwidth in Nigeria is expensive compared to most parts of the world and a major contributing factor is the high cost of international transit. This is due in part to the fact that most of the content consumed by Nigerian Internet users is generated outside the country making most bandwidth access essentially international. Web4Africa’s aim is to reduce the high cost by bringing free and open-source content closer to end-users in Nigeria.
Another benefit of this project is low latency. By bringing the content closer to the user, as we are doing in the case of the Nigerian Mirror project, the user experience is greatly enhanced with faster downloads.
Developers using open-source programming languages and users of Linux Operating Systems in Nigeria are among the direct beneficiaries of this project, provided their Internet Service Provider peers openly at the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN).
The mirror is presently hosting the full repositories of Ubuntu and CentOS (both Linux Operating Systems), as a well as Python Package Index (a programming language), in Nigeria. The project has official recognition from CentOS and Ubuntu respectively as it has already been integrated into their official distribution network.
Suggestions regarding which other Operating Systems and open-source software to mirror in Nigeria are currently being taken via email to admin (at) mirror (dot) ng
“We, at IXPN, are delighted by this initiative from Web4Africa to localize popular open-source content. It is the first of its kind in Nigeria. We commend them in their effort toward local Internet data hosting, which is the best way to drop the cost of Internet access while improving user experience. IXPN totally aligns with the Nigeria Mirror Project and we call on other organizations to emulate this kind of project, so as to build a better Internet ecosystem for our country,” says the Managing Director, Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), Mr. Muhammed Rudman.
“This project, in addition to the immense benefits it brings to the Internet ecosystem in Nigeria, is one of our ways to give back to the local Internet community and is only a first step,” says Oluniyi Ajao, Managing Director of Web4Africa.
Some 250 million people live in any one of the 15 countries in West Africa. Millions of people already own and use a device that is connected the Internet.
While Windows Operating System (OS) dominates the regional market, variants of Linux desktop OS distributions are steadily making way into the sub-region, especially among students and young software Developers. Also, a lot of enterprise servers run Linux server operating systems. In essence, Linux is widely used, in various forms. Android, that ubiquitous OS that powers hundreds of millions of smartphones is based on Linux as is Apple’s MacOS.
However, there hasn’t been a locally hosted Linux mirror in Nigeria. PCs and servers running Linux have thus routinely had to connect to European and North American mirrors at high cost, high latency and limited speed. The rapid deployment of sub-marine fibre cable to the shores of West Africa have largely reduced bandwidth cost and thus reduced some of the challenges with downloading from foreign servers. However, downloading from a local server is hard to beat in terms of latency, reliability and speed.
This is because there is only so far one can go before the law of physics kick-in. Internet traffic to/from West Africa is mostly via Fibre. Fibre relies on Light. Light signals traveling at very high speed. The geographic distance along the coast of West Africa from say Lagos to London, imposes limits on how fast IP packets can move back-and-forth, thus the latency. This is further compounded by the numerous network equipment a data packet transverses as it moves from your PC or server to the download server at the other end of the world.
Web4Africa’s Linux mirror server side-steps all of these challenges since our network peers locally in Nigeria. Users of Internet Service Providers that actively peer locally would enjoy very speedy and unimpeded downloads from our servers as we have a robust and direct network access. There should thus be no bottle-necks unless perhaps there are challenges at the last-mile end of the ISP.
The principle of local hosting that our Local Linux mirrors benefit from, apply to our local web hosting services as well.
We plan to eventually host every Linux distro we offer on our VPS Hosting platform. However, suggestions are welcome regarding what could be hosted in the mirror.
Are you a developer or Linux user in Nigeria? What would you like mirrored in Nigeria?
Web4Africa has been working on a local mirror for linux distributions and important software/modules/scripts.
The mission is to make the most popular open-source Operating Systems and software available locally, starting from Nigeria. Users in Nigeria would be able to benefit from very speedy downloads provided their ISP is peering locally.
We currently host CentOS, Ubuntu and pypi in Nigeria. The CSR project details would be made public very soon.
For now, your suggestions would be appreciated and considered for adding to the existing repository. You are welcome to share these in the comments section below.
Web4Africa is offering a limited-time 60% discount off the Web Hosting in Nigeria plans. Offer closes on Monday. Click on the banner below, to enjoy the one-off offer now.
Nigeria is an emerging economy of over 170 million people and a leader in business and information technology, on the African continent. The country needs to develop despite its challenges. The local hosting industry needs to grow and blossom.
It is well documented that electricity generation and distribution is a perennial challenge in Nigeria.
Web Hosting servers on the other hand need power. Lots of it. A good web hosting service would be online 24 hours every day of the year. For this to be possible, power supply has to be reliable. It has to be very reliable.
Web4Africa’s hosting presence in Nigeria is located in a Tier-III award-winning world-class datacentre. The datacentre operates 100% off the national power grid. A chain of technical redundancy in their power supply setup guarantees an uninterrupted supply of power to our servers and network equipment. There are also layers of monitoring systems to reduce the chances of power disruption. All fuel supplies for the power generating plants are tested and only ones that meet their stringent quality standards are accepted. Scheduled and routine maintenance of all power equipment are vigorously followed. Also, the datacentre supplies power to our rack via two independent feeds.
On our part, all our servers have redundant power units and tap from the independent power feeds supplied by the datacentre. Some equipment without dual-power units are powered through an automatic transfer switch. Thus, the chain of power redundancy and reliability is complete.
While all of these come at a premium, the benefits of local hosting far outweighs the initial cost and at the right scale, the cost becomes more accessible to all.
Web4Africa had commissioned some web hosting equipment in a Tier-III datacentre in Lagos Nigeria a few months ago. We own and manage our network infrastructure and are peering locally at the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN). This gives us direct IP connectivity to the networks of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Carriers that are peering locally in Nigeria.
Local hosting is critical for any country that wants to develop its internet infrastructure. An Internet Exchange is therefore pivotal to local content development and hosting. This is the role the IXPN plays. Two key technical benefits of local hosting are ultra-low latency and high speed connectivity to the local hosting servers.
Our 1Gbps connectivity to the IXPN meant we could test local Internet traffic flows and performance.
This article brings the potential network performance to fore. This is in no way an endorsement nor a critique or any particular ISP but an objective analysis of the potential speed offered by local web hosting. The tests were conducted in the early hours of the morning. Thus, performance during peak business hours could be slightly varied.
The speed tests below were done using Ookla’s ubiquitous Speedtest.net tool from one of our servers in Nigeria. Only Nigerian networks that are part of Speedtest.net and actively peering in Nigeria are highlighted below:
How does this apply to an Internet user in Nigeria?
I’ve always been a proponent of internet performance and one of the major issues with the performance of internet applications is that of latency. Latency is the amount of time it takes for you to send a request and to get a response. Back in the days when all the Internet access we had in the country was via satellite, it was not uncommon to have round trip times of 3000ms and above (i.e. you send a packet to a server and you only got the acknowledgement 3 seconds later). This was okay back then when Internet traffic was mostly bulk data transfers. These days, you deal with applications that require sub-second response times (hello the realtime web) and latency has become an all too important factor in the drive to satisfy Internet users impatience in getting what the want as quickly as they can.
Web developers have had to rely on web hosting companies with servers hosted in other data centers around the world. At best, our applications couldn’t do better in round trip times of at least 100ms. No longer do we have to put up with this and neither should your users do the same. We now have affordable servers in our country! You can put your development environment now on a server in Ikeja or Victoria Island and work directly from the terminal and have a near realtime experience (it’s as though you were working locally on your computer’s terminal).
Oluniyi gave me early access to his server infrastructure and I’ve been using it for a few months now and my experience has been a somewhat bittersweet one. I assumed that I would ping the server and get at most 40ms (given that I was using wireless Internet, that was an acceptable RTT). My experience was mixed.
Like in other countries, there is a local Internet exchange in Lagos providing peering for ISPs with infrastructure in the state and (like every properly configured data center) the data center that Web4Africa’s local servers are colocated is connected to the local exchange; however not all ISPs are connected or have properly configured routing to leverage the exchange and so on the well engineered networks of some ISPs I would get RTTs of 20ms or even 13ms and on the badly configured or no-peering ISPs, I would have even worse RTTs (200ms) because data has to transit through London before coming back to Lagos. So packets will originate from Lagos, transit through routers in London and then terminate in Lagos again.
I currently only host a local bitcoin node on this development server and the network performance and uptime has been stellar. Web4Africa is a very competent hosting service and I cannot recommend them highly enough. High server specs and solid state drives will ensure that your applications perform at their optimum.
Pricing is not as you would expect when comparing it to foreign providers and the reason is a simple one: the cost structures are different – data center operators have to generate their own power which increase the cost for service providers. Nonetheless, they are competitively priced and if you’re a performance nut like me, then you should definitely sign up and start testing your applications with them. Your users will definitely be happier and thank you for it.
Even though I mentioned worse performance while testing the services from some other ISPs, what’s important to note is that, this will only get better. When sufficient content is hosted locally, ISPs will start to optimize their networks to take advantage of peering arrangements provided by the local exchange.
Written by Tim Akinbo. He is the Founder and CEO of TimbaObjects Company.from Lagos Nigeria.
Note: The high latency on a few networks mentioned above is due to their inactive local peering. Web4Africa is already engaging the management of IXPN for improvement in the user experience.
Web4Africa, a leading pan-African web hosting company and accredited domain registrar has extended its web hosting infrastructure to Nigeria, making it the first web hosting company to do so.
From an award-winning Tier-III data centre in Lagos Nigeria, Web4Africa is poised to offer its regular services from its West African network Point-of-Presence. These services include: shared Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting, Virtual Private Server (VPS) Hosting and Cloud Hosting.
To offer the very best experience to residents of Nigeria, Web4Africa is peering openly at the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), with a 100Mbps connectivity to all the leading operators openly available at the exchange point in Lagos.
From the Nigeria data centre, Web4Africa has access to clean, 100% stable and redundant power supply, as well as top-notch physical security.
In the words of Oluniyi Ajao, M/D of Web4Africa:
We are in Africa and Africa is in us. We are committed to bringing world-class web hosting to Africa and Africans, meeting the needs of businesses and other entities. Our extension to Lagos Nigeria is one of the first steps towards this goal.
The installed infrastructure has been carefully engineered for excellence with speed and redundancy built into every layer of the hardware.
Residents of Nigeria would have access to low-latency and high-speed data hosting services with varying service options targeted at developers, SMEs, NGOs, corporates and government departments.
Web4Africa has the experience and credibility to drive the need for local web content development in Nigeria. Web4Africa currently serves existing clients from its own server hardware in a Tier-III data centre in South Africa, powered by its own multi-homed resilient IP network. Web4Africa currently peers openly at 1Gbps on Africa’s first internet exchange – the Johannesburg Internet Exchange (JINX) and enjoys direct connectivity to some major South African and pan-African IP carriers.
Established in 2002, Web4Africa is a leading pan-African web hosting company and ICANN Accredited Domain Registrar offering web presence services to clients worldwide.
Web4Africa, an ICANN Accredited Domain Registrar and web hosting company, now accepts Bitcoin as payment for its services.
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