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To understand the importance of NRENs and IXPs to reduce the use of intercontinental providers to get between African countries, we can look at the state of direct connections between African countries by measuring the traceroutes within Africa. Below on the left and the right are routes taken from South Africa to other African countries in September 2005 and August 2009 and at the bottom the routes from Burkina Faso to other African countries in August 2009. In the map on the right, countries which were only accessible by satellite have horizontal shading lines.

South African routes

In September 2005 most traffic from South Africa to the rest of Africa took costly international links, only Botswana and Zimbabwe had direct routes. By 2009, the situation improved as direct routes from South Africa to Namibia and Botswana were added. More details on the routes to African countries from several measurement points around the world measured in spring 2009 can be seen in a spreadsheet of African routing and inferences.

S. Africa to African Countries Routing Sep. 2005

S. Africa to African countries Routing Aug. 2009

Ubuntunet Topology Nov 2012

Connections from Burkina Faso in August 2009 were direct to only Senegal, Mali, and Benin (in green). Most other countries in grey were reached by intercontinental connections via Europe, followed by many in teal that go via Europe and N. America. Somalia was reached via Europe, N. and S. America. Burundi was reached via Europe, N. America and E. Asia.

Looking at the Ubuntunet topology , one might expect there to be direct connections between S. Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),  Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia. We made a spreadsheet of traceroutes from Pretoria and Johannesburg (S. Africa) to other African countries measured Oct 2013 to hosts (mainly in academic or ISP sites) in 47 different countries in Africa. Of those only Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, and South Africa had direct routes (i.e. not via Europe).  So it appears that in particular the more northerly countries: DRC, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia are not connected directly (at least to the hosts/sites we made measurements for).

Burkina Faso routes

Burkina Faso to African Countries Routing Aug. 2009