South Africa’s Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) says local ICT service providers that do not support the latest version of the Internet Protocol (IPv6) are potentially threatening the country’s participation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). ISPA says IPv4 addresses have already run out in every region other than Africa and that the continent is projected to run out of addresses in March 2020. The ISPA added that while there are technical workarounds which can help to mitigate potential adverse consequences, there is ultimately no alternative but to adopt IPv6 across the board if South Africa is going to benefit from technological advances such as 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities.
According to ISPA, figures published by Google reflect South Africa’s IPv6 adoption at 0.4 percent, substantially behind Zimbabwe at 6.01 percent and Gabon at 14.38 percent, all well below the global average of 29.44 percent. Amongst the BRICS nations, India has reached 39.62 percent adoption, Brazil 28.85 percent, Russia 4.26 percent and China 1.29 percent.
For its part, ISPA has facilitated the rollout of IPv6 by providing a virtual local area network (VLAN) at the Johannesburg Internet Exchange (JINX) to facilitate testing for ISPs that connect to JINX. AfriNIC, the regional Internet registry, and the body that Africa gets its IP addresses from, has also played its part by initially making IPv6 allocations free.