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.
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