The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, has stressed the need for Nigerians to migrate from the use of Internet Protocol version four (IPv4) address system to Internet Protocol version six (IPv6), in order to diversify Nigeria’s economy and prepare it for a digital economy transformation.
The Minister who spoke as a special guest of honour at a recent webinar on the state of IPv6 deployment in Nigeria, organised by the IPv6 Council Nigeria, in collaboration with the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), said there was need for migration from IPv4 to IPv6, saying IPv4 was fast depleting in numbers, while the population of internet users in Nigeria is on the rise.
Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are assigned numbers on the internet, which are part of the underlying infrastructure of the internet. The former IP version four, which Nigerians are connected to, is fast depleting and the world is fast migrating to a newer version known as version six (IPv6).
The Minister who was represented by the Managing Director of Galaxy Backbone, Prof. Muhammed Abubakar, said the conference on IPv6 came at a right time, when the federal government was focusing on economic diversification to drive the country’s national digital economy policy for a digital Nigeria and the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP 2020-2025).
“IPv6 is an important ingredient of our National Digital Economy Policy and the Nigerian National Broadband Plan.
“The current Internet Protocol that Nigeria has, which is driving the use of internet, is the IPv4, which has a combined capacity of about four billion addresses, and it is already reaching its capacity limit, which calls for the need to migrate to IPv6, with larger capacities.
“The increase in the adoption rate of IPv6 will require the creation of policies and regulatory instrument that will encourage and drive its adoption.
“So the federal government is putting regulatory instrument in place in line with the developmental regulation pillar of the National Digital Economy Policy. This will serve as a guide for both the public and private sectors to drive adoption of IPv6,” Pantami said.
One of the keynote speakers, CEO, MainOne Broadband Company, Ms. Funke Opeke, said Nigeria’s presence on the internet had been low even in the days of IPv4, adding that it calls for growth and increased access to the internet, being a critical foundation of Nigeria’s broadband plan.
“One of the key ways to achieve Nigeria’s broadband target is to leverage IPv6. It is not possible to connect Nigeria ‘s large population of over 206 million people without IPv6 adoption. With IPv6, we can connect people, networks and devices.,” Opeke said.
President of ATCON, Ikechukwu Nnamani, in his welcome speech, said with the projection that by 2030, more than125 billion devices would be connected using Internet of Things (IoTs), which would put about 15 connected devices into the hands of each consumer, all the devices would therefore need a unique IP address to function efficiently.
“The world has run out of IPV4, the initial IP addressing system. AFRINIC the only regional body in Africa that still has some IPV4 for allocation, recently indicated it has less than 1.8 million IPV4 available. The migration to IPV6 is therefore not optional at this point.
“ATCON being a very proactive Association saw the need to train network engineers in Nigeria in order to be able to migrate from IPV4 to IPV6 several years ago and this led ATCON hosting international training on IPv6 with the support of some of its members. This training was done in conjunction with AFRINIC,” Nnamani said.