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IPv4 Exhaustion


In February 2011, IANA allocated two large blocks of IPv4 address space to APNIC, causing the global IPv4 pool to deplete to a critically low level. This triggered a previously agreed upon global policy, "Global Policy for the Allocation of the Remaining IPv4 Address Space". Each RIR then received one /8 each, which is around 16.8 million IPv4 addresses, depleting IANA's pool of available IPv4 address space.


The RIRs and IPv4 Exhaustion

As of September 2014, three of the five RIRs, APNIC, LACNIC and the RIPE NCC, were already allocating IPv4 address space from the last /8 they received from the IANA. ARIN is expected to exhaust its supply and start allocating from the last /8 it received from IANA before the end of 2014. IPv4 address space that is being allocated from the last /8 is distributed according to special regional policies developed by each RIR community.

Organisations in the APNIC and RIPE NCC service regions are unable to obtain large amounts of IPv4 address space to cover their actual needs and can obtain a one-time small allocation to ensure network continuity while deploying IPv6 networks. Existing and emerging networks in these regions face scalability issues unless they deploy IPv6 in order to ensure long-term network growth and global connectivity.



AFRINIC is now the only RIR with a non-critically low supply of IPv4 address space. However, consumption rates in the region are increasing rapidly and there is no way to predict future consumption. Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of mobile Internet users and a huge population of future Internet users waiting to get online. More and more IP addresses will be needed to facilitate Internet access across the region. As the supply of IPv4 address space continues to dwindle, new connections will increasingly be made over IPv6 as opposed to IPv4, especially in those regions where IPv4 address space is already scarce.


IPv6 – Why Now?

By design, computers using IPv4 and IPv6 cannot communicate directly with each other. Devices connecting to the Internet with only an IPv4 address cannot communicate with devices that are connecting with only an IPv6 address. In order to ensure that networks continue to run seamlessly and all devices around the world can continue to communicate with each other, IPv6 must be deployed in parallel with IPv4. This means that IPv4 and IPv6 will coexist and be operated in parallel for the time it takes to fully deploy IPv6 on a global scale.

This chart shows the percentage of networks (Autonomous Systems - ASes) that announce an IPv6 prefix for a specified list of countries or groups of countries.


Source: RIPE NCC


Transition Mechanisms

To facilitate this period of coexistence and to ensure that the Internet remains reachable to all during the shift towards an IPv6 Internet, the technical community has developed a number of transition mechanisms to bridge the gap.


Deploy IPv6 Now

The future of the Internet is over IPv6 and, unless African networks and businesses also transition, they risk becoming isolated from the global Internet. As the rest of the world moves to IPv6, Africa has to make sure its networks, devices, services and content are IPv6 ready to remain an active global player.

IPv6 Support, Training and Information for Africa

AFRINIC has been leading the effort in the region to promote and support IPv6 deployment since 2005 through outreach, education, free training courses and provision of an IPv6 test bed. Find out more about IPv6 and what you can do to kick-start your IPv6 deployment plans:

IPv6 for Governments

Find out how to get your country’s IPv6 deployment plans moving. Read our comprehensive document; IPv6 for Governments: A guide to IPv6 deployment. You can also get involved with the AFRINIC Government Working Group. The AFRINIC Government Working Group (AfGWG) ensures that African governments are highly involved in Internet governance and policy matters, and can interact with the Internet technical community particularly when it comes to the management of Internet number resources.


Global IPv6 Resources and useful links