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AFRINIC's Measurement Working Group: An avenue for Learning and Sharing

The Measurement Working Group (MWG) is the main platform through which AFRINIC keeps abreast the community of the latest Internet developments. The group fosters collaborations with researchers from across the globe and conducts regular online study group sessions where matters related to the Internet are discussed. MWG is an open platform on which Internet researchers, network operators, social scientists and others in Africa and beyond discuss topics related to Internet measurements from technical and socio-economic perspectives (Become a member of the MWG simply by joining the mailing list at https://lists.afrinic.net/mailman/listinfo/measurement-wg). The group has a strong focus on Internet measurement studies in Africa. It also conveys research or workshop outcomes to AFRINIC's community. The working group has this year carried out a number of activities highlighted in this article.

 

Before going into MWG activities, let's take a few moments to discuss the setup and modus operandi of the group. As indicated above, MWG is open to scholars, research students, network operators, and members of the community broadly interested in Internet measurement. Topics of interest include IPv6 deployment, Internet peering, Internet security, mobile Internet as well as topics related to Internet freedom, surveillance, censorship, manipulation, interference, regulations, and policies, among others. Members are free to initiate a discussion on a topic and/or share information related to scholarships, fellowships, upcoming events, and more. We often use our vast contacts created via the group to reach out and promote our activities to interested parties across the globe.

Earlier this year, we invited Internet researchers, via the working group, from across the continent to formally establish a research collaboration with AFRINIC. We received a number of responses. The idea was to initiate and accelerate collaboration among Internet researchers in Africa. We are working hard to ensure that the collaborations develop strategic directions for Internet research on the continent. Besides, we used MWG to publicise an Internet measurement awareness survey we did in February and March this year with the aim of assessing the current status of Internet measurement in Africa. We also used the MWG and other channels to publicise the outcomes of the survey.

One of the major events organised through MWG was the two-day Internet Measurement Workshop at the Africa Internet Summit 2019. Attended by people from different sectors of the Internet ecosystem in Africa and abroad, the workshop was packed with talks, discussions, and tutorials. A number of participants joined the working group afterwards and currently participate in some of the group's activities. We also utilised the group's mailing list to share the presentations and other resources used during the workshop.

Internet Africa reading group is a monthly online study group session organised via MWG. The sessions discuss research and general literature related to the Internet and examine the effects of new developments in Africa's Internet. The aim is to sensitise the Internet community of any research and developments around the Internet and the application of those for the benefit of the community. Five papers have been discussed this year through the online session. The meetings were led by researchers from the AFRINIC office in Mauritius as well as meeting chairs from South Africa and the U.S.

With most of our current active members being academic research staff and students, the chairs of MWG are now working to get members of the internet-related business community and civil society to participate in the conversations. We are also looking at getting undergraduate students to participate in our activities. This has already kicked off with our new internship programme.

 

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