" ITREALMS: Experts canvass for IPv6 task force

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Experts canvass for IPv6 task force

Group of concerned Information Technology (IT) experts across the continent of Africa have canvassed for the setting up of Internet Protocol version Six (IPv6) Task Force, to enhance the adoption of this latest version of IP.

IPv6 is an Internet Protocol version designed to succeed IPv4, the first implementation which is still in dominant use at present, but is expected to go into complete depletion by mid 2011. IP is an Internet layer protocol for packet-switched internet works, while IPv6 was defined in December 1998 by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) with the publication of an Internet standard specification through its Request for Comment (RFC) 2460 and supports 2128 (about 3.4×1038) addresses.

This expansion provides flexibility in allocating addresses and routing traffic and eliminating the primary need for Network Address Translation (NAT), which gained widespread deployment as an effort to alleviate IPv4 address exhaustion.

Leading the proposal for the African Task Force on IPv6 in a submission made available to ITRealms Online from the African Network Information Center (AfriNIC), Technical head of the Egyptian IPv6 test beds and labs, Smart Village, Giza-Cairo, Mr. Hisham Ahmed Ibrahim, lamented that only Africa is the continent yet to get this kind of task force.

AfriNIC is a non-government, not-for-profit, membership organization, based in Mauritius that serves the African Internet Community.

The call, Ibrahim noted has become crucial to ignite general acceptance and consensus from African countries and organizations active in the field of Internet and access, towards the official launch of an African regional IPv6 Task Force.

“Africa is the only region in the world without a regional task force concerned mainly with IPv6 and its regional development, which led to some allegations from foreign organizations that the African community needs chaperoning when it comes to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) development, especially in regard to the Internet and IPv6,” he said.

According to him, starting such a regional organization with the help of the already established Internet concerned African organizations, well educated and trained African technical community, would help to bring together Local Internet Registries (LIR), regional efforts and even governments to focus on one of the most anticipated Internet issues these days, which is IPv6.

Ibrahim pointed out that with less than 7 per cent of the IPv4 blocks left in the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) pool, predictions are that total depletion would come to the fore within the middle of next year.

“These predictions do not take into consideration the impact of distributing the final 5-8 blocks among the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs),” he said, stressing that Africa should take a stand now to face such a challenge and to turn that imminent date into an opportunity.

He urged for contributions that would make this regional initiative up and running as soon as humanly possible.

He also explained that the establishment of the task force is to assemble a group of African experts, all over the continent that work mainly with nations, LIRs and Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) on fully supporting and implementing IPv6 capabilities and down streaming these capabilities to their consumers using African experiences and knowhow.

As at the time of going to the press, the proposal has begun to receive commendations and supports across the continent from various experts and expert groups.

One of such supports came from the president of the global body for IPv6 Forum, Mr. Latif Ladid, who described it as a “highly welcome initiative,” and promised to have a roundtable on that subject when he visits Egypt in early next month.

Ladid also disclosed that he has extended the request to the chairpersons of the currentIPv6 Forum chapters on the continent of Africa, namely Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal, Kenya and Ghana.

Endorsing the initiative, Uganda-based IT expert, who gave his name as Mr. Amos, said that they are in the process of establishing country-based task force to lead the adoption of IPv6.

“I strongly welcome the idea of having this championed at the Regional level,” he declared.

Another Ugandan expert, Mr. Paul Ikanza, noted that implementing the adoption in African countries has witnessed some frustration in spite of lots of training camps and IPv6 is covered every time there is a technical workshop or conference.

“But I have realized there isn’t a structure beyond the awareness campaign cum training, so there is a definite gap. My government, for example, has not actively planned for this issue to my knowledge. I have even gone as far as contacting the press to give it mass coverage but it seemed like I was being alarmist,” he said.

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