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To: Multiple recipients of list AFRIK-IT
Date: Mon, 30 Sep 1996 12:12:26 EST
Here is some update on Djibouti.
Djibouti is a bit warm at the moment (35-40 degrees Celsius). It is also
hot to those who want to connect to the Internet. It made its link to
full TCP/IP in May 1996 via a private ISP called STID.
STID (Societe Telecommunications Internationales de Djibouti)
Names: Mr. Ali and Mr. Bissou (sorry, I do not have full names).
Here are some of the lessons from my brief visit last week.
First lesson. Private ISPs are very efficient. We made applications for
connection in the morning, within few hours we were online! No
bureaucracy, no paper stating that we have to abide by press laws blah..
We filled an agreement that states standard Internet etiquette and
ethics and we were there!
Second lesson: standard software: local users connection at the moment
are via dial-up PPP link. There are no local leased line links to the IP
host at STID. Users connect using standard PPP, mail and web software
(Trumpet Winsock, Eudora and Netscape).
Third lesson: flat fees: this is easier to manage both by client and the
service provider. The bad news is that the fee is high.
Subscription fee= 50,000 FD ~ US$284
Monthly fee = 35,000 FD ~ US$200
Do not be alarmed with these fees. Many ISPs in Africa (store and forward)
charge higher than this, see http://www.info.usaid.gov/alnk/ispcosts/data1.html
There are two other lessons from this fee structure.
I. ISP fees are based on local setting.
Djibouti is one of the most expensive port cities in Africa; UNDP estimates
that it costs 1.8 times of Addis Abeba and Asmara! (This is to alert
neighboring countries not to copy these figures for their local Internet
II. The smaller the user base the larger the fee
There are less than fifty users at the moment! According to the Director,
these fees will reduce with increasing user base.
Fourth lesson: Linux! We do not need $200,000 worth equipment to set up a
full IP. Use PCs running Linux or Free BSD Unix for ten times less than
that cost. See Mike Jensen's (firstname.lastname@example.org) recent article on
Computers in Africa about this.
STID has a 64Kbits connection to France and the servers are all running
Linux. I was impressed. (I was expecting to see large SPARC stations).
DNS , Proxy, Web and mail and news servers are all running under Linux.
This is encouraging for development aid, local information hosts,
academic institutions and other connectivity initiatives. Spread Linux
throughout Africa and wait for miracles!