Best-connected data centre in Ghana just got better

Accra, Ghana – August 4, 2020

Workonline Communications, leading pan-African provider of IP transit, has selected PAIX’s carrier- and cloud-neutral data centre in Accra, Ghana to deploy its first point of presence (POP) in West Africa.  This deployment forms a part of Workonline’s strategic plan to help build a robust Internet ecosystem across the continent.

The PAIX Accra (ACC-1) data centre (initially founded as “RackAfrica” in 2011) was upgraded and expanded in 2019 after it was acquired by PAIX Data Centres in 2018. The facility is recognised as the digital gateway to West Africa, with five submarine cables connected; housing equipment of all the major carriers and ISPs; and connecting to all metro fibre providers.  It is therefore the best-connected data centre in Ghana.

“This expansion marks an exciting milestone in our African development roadmap,” says Head of Business Development at Workonline Communications, Benjamin Deveaux.  “Our expansion provides local ISPs and global CDNs with high quality IP transit services. Our Ghanaian POP will help us extend the reach of our network and support our mission of further developing the Internet ecosystem in Africa,” adds Deveaux.

The combination of carrier- cloud-neutral data centres and well-peered regional IP transit providers often underpins the business case for content providers to invest in a market. The call from the Internet Society (ISOC) to keep Internet traffic within Africa highlights the importance for more content to be available locally. Locally served content vastly improves the user experience and assists in the reduction of the cost of Internet services, in so doing, positively impacting economic growth.

The Ghanaian market has enjoyed a strong growth in demand for data. This is in part due to the ease of doing business in the country, but also the increased uptake of working from home. Internet access penetration across West Africa has grown from less than 10% in 2010 to close to 40% ten years later with the trend expected to accelerate further.

“PAIX Accra (ACC-1) is the cloud and connectivity hub of Ghana, enabling the digital economy in Ghana and the West African region. Workonline’s market entry in Ghana will help serve our diverse customer community to generate new business opportunities,” says Magloire Hiol, Managing Director, Ghana at PAIX Data Centres.

“We are very excited about our network expansion, and we look forward to investing in, and growing with, the Ghanaian Internet community over the years to come,” concluded Deveaux.


About Workonline Communications

Workonline (AS 37271) is one of the largest and the fastest growing IP transit networks in Africa. The company is focused on providing highly scalable, high quality and flexible service options to meet the needs of carriers, Internet service providers, content providers and mobile operators.






About PAIX

PAIX data centres is a Pan-African provider of cloud- and carrier-neutral colocation data centre services. PAIX is the acronym for “Pan African Internet Exchange data centres”. PAIX was founded in 2016 by a team of data centre, telecom industry and investment professionals with a track record in the African market. In its data centre operations, PAIX aims to offer a leading global quality service level to its national and international customer base across the African continent.




PAIX Accra (ACC-1) Factsheet :

Press enquiries:  Heather Third, | +27 83 655 4445


Into month three of lockdown in South Africa, the larger IP transit providers are reporting 30+% increase in traffic largely due to remote working environments. Our own network across the African continent has experienced growth in line (if not slightly higher) that the 30% average we are seeing reported during this period, as the world moves to rely on virtual work environments. Thankfully, the pandemic starting in other markets first gave us some time to prepare for the increased volume and challenging work conditions.

Internet service providers have seen an upward trend in end users requiring more speed, specifically upload speeds. Home networks that were not intended to support large volumes of traffic, but rather were installed for social and entertainment needs, have been impacted the most.

In a typical family environment, under stay-at-home regulations, learners are accessing classes whilst parents are drawing on the same bandwidth for corporate work requirements such as bandwidth hungry video conferencing applications.

Nick Soper, Co-founder and Managing Director of Cape Town-based ISP, Atomic Access, told us: “We suggested customers change their line speed to one that has at least 10 Mbps upload capacity, and if they have more than one person working from home we recommend 20 Mbps.

"We also let people know they can downgrade again once this is all over.”

It's this kind of flexibility and approach to the dramatic market demands that will assist ISPs keep up with increased connectivity and content requirements in these challenging times.

We are proud of the work that the Workonline team has done to support ISPs both commercially and technically to navigate this new world.

Reach out to us if you would like to know more on bizdev<at> or call one of the team on +27 21 200 9000.


As part of our commitment to growing and enabling a community of well-skilled network engineers, we recently welcomed our first junior network engineers under our learnership programme in conjunction with Afrika Tikkun Services (ATS).

Meet Zikhona Kasana, Junior Network Engineer:

I am a 23-year-old young lady born in the Eastern Cape but was raised in Johannesburg by my Mom. I'm currently doing a work-based learnership here at Workonline and completing my studies at UNISA. I am an inquisitive young lady that is always eager to learn. I'm very motivated and open to any challenge especially challenges that will take me out of my comfort zone.

What makes me want to work for Workonline?

Apart Workonline being one of the leading wholesale transit companies, l want to work here because l see an opportunity to grow. I've only been here for quite a short period of time and already l have been inspired by the work ethics of my colleagues. I see an excellent opportunity to grow in the company.

What makes me want to be in the Internet industry?

The world has evolved, and we are currently in the 4th Industrial Revolution. I’ve always been intrigued by how the Internet works but was clueless of where to start. There are endless opportunities in terms of careers in the Internet industry and one that l am pursuing in the long run is into the digital economy.

More about Zikhona:

Favourite app? Facebook and LinkedIn

Android/IOS? Android

Favourite streaming service? Netflix

Favourite tech thought leader? Ben Maddison

Technology nostalgia moment? Playing Snakes on my Mom's Nokia 3310

Outside of work? Socialising with friends, playing puzzles from magazines and writing.

What's exciting about working for a wholesale Internet company in Africa? I'm part of a company that serves many companies by providing them connectivity to the Internet. We give them a fast, secure and reliable Internet connection. It feels good knowing that I work for a company that provides services that are essential for lots of other companies to succeed.

Challenges: Keeping up to date with new developments in technology would be the biggest. Then too, dealing with private data of clients, so being careful and disciplined knowing that a mistake could result in serious compromise.

Opportunities: There are no limits. There is so much to learn and career diversification

One thing l want people to know about the Internet in Africa: It plays a significant role in the economy: it presents a major opportunity to Africa as it contributes to 1,1% to the overall African GDP

In our next issue, we’ll introduce you to Zikhona’s colleague, Junior Nkala.



As part of its commitment to offering high quality services to its African customers, Workonline Communications, leading provider of wholesale IP transit and connectivity services is extending its reach to France-IX, one of Europe’s leading Internet Exchanges (IXs).

With its community of several hundreds of carriers, ISPs, content delivery networks and Internet professionals, France-IX offers high quality access to both English and French content through its Paris and Marseille exchange points. Workonline Communications will leverage the exchange’s strategic positioning to further interconnect Africa and the Middle East to Europe and the US.

The connection to France-IX will be housed at Interxion’s MRS1 datacentre in Marseille. “We are pleased to observe an additional valuable interconnection between our customers in our Interxion Marseille campus. Workonline Communications and France-IX interconnection allows African carriers to get French and English content from Marseille with the best user experience and in a cost-effective way. It confirms the critical role of the city as the main content hub and digital gateway between Europe, Middle East, Asia and especially Africa” says Fabrice Coquio, Interxion France Managing Director.

Benjamin Deveaux, Head of Business Development for Workonline Communications explains, “Workonline's portfolio of carrier-focused services enables our clients to extend their reach to new markets and enhance their existing services. As demand for quality Internet increases during the COVID-19 crisis, we are proud to be able to add France-IX to the growing list of IXs to which Workonline is connected and can offer remote peering services. The fact that content from this IX is provided in English and French is also an advantage to the Francophone countries we serve, which currently include Madagascar and Mauritius.”

Gilles Pecqueron, Operational Marketing Manager at France-IX said: "This agreement with Workonline assists us in strengthening our position as the leading digital gateway to Africa and the Middle-East. Africa is a rapidly developing market and we’re delighted to be part of the exponential growth of Workonline in this region.”



France-IX is the Premier Internet Peering Service Provider in France, offering public and private interconnection services through its carrier and data centre neutral exchange points in Paris and Marseille. France-IX interconnects several hundreds of telecommunications carriers, ISPs, content providers, content delivery networks and all other Internet networks worldwide with significant traffic in the Internet French market. This enhances the affordability and latency of the Internet traffic exchanged between its members and thus improves the overall quality of the Internet in France.

Founded in June 2010 with the support of the French Internet community, France-IX is a member-based association whose core values are neutrality, sustainability and constant improvement of the Internet. For more information go to France-IX website


Connectivity upgrade for thousands of learners across South Africa

Workonline Communications, a pan-African, global Network Service Provider, has radically increased its long-term commitment to providing Internet facilities to Afrika Tikkun Centres of Excellence across South Africa. The five centres, which benefit over nine thousand young people, will receive an impressive connectivity upgrade thanks to the commitment of the Workonline team, bringing them in line with world-class academic institutions.

Workonline Communications has been generously providing Internet connectivity to all five centres since 2016. The upgrade, which requires some intricate logistics considering the location of the centres, will significantly improve the Internet speed and educational experience of the youth who attend the centres.

Although Workonline doesn’t provide commercial enterprise services in its usual course of business, the leadership of Afrika Tikkun, under direction of the Lubner family, as well as Edward Lawrence and Ben Maddison who founded Workonline Communications, both share a commitment to excellence and a passion for helping South Africa become a world-class nation worthy of all who live in it.

Afrika Tikkun’s centres of excellence are little worlds unto themselves; vibrant spaces where information relating to education, skills, careers and life is shared. Aware that the kids of today live in a world increasingly characterised by digital interconnectedness, Afrika Tikkun’s centres also attempt to carve out technological hubs where information is just a click away.

To meet the needs of an adapting generation, Afrika Tikkun’s Cradle to Career 360° model includes the use of computer labs and multi-media rooms that are integral resources for those in the Children and Youth Development Programme (CYD) and Career Development Programme (CDP) respectively. However, their efforts to transform their centres into spaces that truly reflect 21st century technological efficiency has not always matched their vision, largely due to limited bandwidth. This has compromised the ability of their young people to access and share information quickly, explore the potential of innovation and participate fully in local and global communication platforms. Poor bandwidth has also impacted the running of the centres more broadly.

The growing partnership between Afrika Tikkun and Workonline Communications has addressed this and will undoubtedly have a significant and positive impact on Afrika Tikkun’s young people and the South African economy.

Although, admittedly, connecting the centres at such high speeds has been a challenge for the Workonline team due to the physical locations of the centres, we have worked tirelessly and persevered to ultimately achieve the desired result. Through this extension of the partnership, the quality of the Internet service at Afrika Tikkun’s centres will be on par with other leading academic institutions in the world.

CEO of Afrika Tikkun Services, Onyi Nwaneri says, “The expected changes we anticipate with this upgrade will make the lives of our children and young people so much better, which is our goal. For some time, our centres have been unable to utilise certain equipment as a result of slow Internet connectivity. The generosity of Workonline will certainly change this and the potential impact of utilising a full complement of equipment in a centre is an exciting unknown”.

Instead of having to divide and rotate the time allocated for Internet use between different groups, more children will be able to use the equipment at the same time. The accelerated Internet speed will allow for broader and more efficient online searches, enriching the learning experience and improving learning outcomes. This will also allow for further implementation of e-learning skills programmes that will improve the ability of young people to increase their skills, search for jobs and potentially transition to employment or self-employment. At the level of centre management, better internet connectivity will ensure administrative tasks and communication are streamlined.

“Access to the Internet is such an incredible enabler,” says Edward Lawrence, co-founder and director of Workonline Communications. “In fact, most of the academic knowledge I have today I have learnt from having access to the Internet! The Workonline team’s commitment to continuously improving the Internet experience across communities in South Africa, and indeed across sub-Saharan Africa, is based on this premise. Our partnership with Afrika Tikkun allows us to play a small part in helping communities to share skills, best practice and training and ultimately, extend the incredible impact that Afrika Tikkun already has on the South African economy.”

It remains undeniable that organisations must develop their capacity to operate effectively in a digital space. Our children, the majority of whom make up Generation Z or post-millennials, must be equipped with the skills to engage effectively in the cyber environment, draw as much helpful information as possible, and connect with like minds across the country, region and world. Afrika Tikkun and Workonline are about to make this happen.

For more information on Afrika Tikkun and their initiatives call 011 325 5914, email or visit


Afrika Tikkun was founded in 1994 with the goal of making a difference in South Africa by developing and uplifting young people in underprivileged communities. They are passionate about developing young people together with like-minded partners, through innovative and enterprising ways, to impact the economy of South Africa.

They aim to end child poverty and youth unemployment through a holistic approach that begins in early childhood and ends with productive adults accessing the economy. The model provides 360° care (nutrition, health and social) services to the young person. This approach is called the Cradle-to-Career 360° model, and it has earned Afrika Tikkun recognition for being one of the most impactful organisations in South Africa.



Global network service provider, Workonline Communications, has launched Remote Cloud Connect, facilitating access to cloud services for Workonline customers over a dedicated Ethernet Virtual Private Line (EVPL) service. This low latency cloud solution enables customers to connect to leading cloud services such as AWS Direct Connect, Microsoft Azure Express Route, Google Cloud, Oracle and IBM cloud platforms more securely and transparently from any country where Workonline has a presence.

Benjamin Deveaux, Head of Business Development at Workonline Communications, says that the aim is to empower customers by enabling them to connect to the cloud through their use of the high performance Workonline backbone: “As a wholesale provider of IP transit services across Africa, we are continuously innovating to provide our ISP clients with more stable and reliable Internet services in Africa. By leveraging global cloud exchange platforms like Teraco’s Africa Cloud Exchange we can offer our ISP customers a more secure remote connection to a cloud provider of their choice. Through Remote Cloud Connect, clients will benefit from a low cost, high performance connection with excellent local support.”

In line with the predicted growth of cloud across the continent, Xalam Analytics recently published its report ‘The rise of the African cloud’, and says that for African markets, cloud, virtualisation and the broader evolution towards serverless computing are the most disruptive technology developments since the advent of the mobile payment revolution. Few other segments in the African ICT space are as likely to generate an incremental $2bn in top line revenue over the next five years, and at least as much in adjacent enabling ecosystem revenue.

Deveaux says that Workonline sees immense potential across East and West Africa within the remote connectivity to cloud services space in particular: “Initially our efforts will focus on Kenya and Ghana, where remote connectivity to cloud services is growing fast.”

Through Remote Cloud Connect, Workonline will deliver far more predictable latency connections by taking the shortest route from Kenya or Ghana back to its South African or European Points of Presence where the Cloud provider in question is present. Workonline will also provide secondary failover links for protection when possible, with transparency in terms of the paths which the traffic will take in various failure scenarios. These services can be provided at 1Mbps to multiples of 10Gbps.

Andrew Owens, Teraco peering and interconnection specialist, says that cloud growth is a reality across the continent and the ability for established networks to provide an on-ramp to cloud is essential: “The Africa Cloud Exchange not only enables networks to provide this connection, but also encourages the growth and development of cloud-based solutions. By providing a direct and secure connection, the platform provides a better cloud experience for end users and as a result, empowers the growth and success of African cloud providers.”


“Bring about the change you want to see in the community.”

That was one of the animated discussions happening at the second WomenTechConnect@AfPIF2019 in Mauritius last week.  It was complemented by a great analogy of bringing your own chair if there is no seat for you at the table.

The discussion was part of a working
lunch which was packed to capacity, and included a panel discussion chaired by
hosts and co-sponsors Workonline Communications and The London Internet
Exchange (LINX).  The WomenTechConnect
initiative was founded only last year by Workonline Communications and has
become a sought-after event on the calendar. 
The initiative aims to promote positive change for women in the ICT
workplace by connecting likeminded women and men and giving them a platform to
share their experiences.

The panel discussion, chaired by
Workonline senior network engineer Michelle Opiyo, featured conversations with Joyce
Dogniez, vice-president community development and engagement at ISOC,  Esther Cobbinah, network engineer at LINX, Mark
Tinka, head of engineering, Seacom, Esther King, ISOC WomenInTech fellow, and
Caglar Dabanoglu, senior network architect at Akamai.

The point was raised by the male
representatives on the panel that they were often unaware whether there were
issues or barriers that women may be experiencing.  They encouraged women to speak up and seek
support, and to seek ways of creating an environment that is open and engaging
between genders.

“It’s heartening to hear the
empowerment around the table and in the discussions,” commented Esther Cobbinah
from LINX. “In general, the community looks to be taking responsibility for
change.   If women want to be treated as equals to their male
counterparts, then they can't also expect to have special treatment because
they are women.“

One organisation, Teraco Data
Environments, pointed out how far the industry has come, citing their own
senior management as a great example where more than half of the team are

The theme of support was also emphasised.
Benjamin Deveaux, head of business development at Workonline Communications,
commented: “Having a mentor, male or female, is a powerful tool to find support
in the workplace, and it’s important that those who are already established in
their careers take the time to support new industry entrants and share their

WomenTechConnect formed part of
this year’s 10th African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) held over a
3-day period from 20-22 August 2019 in Balaclava, Mauritius.



Around the world, various countries’ tax regimes are grappling with how to stay relevant in a rapidly changing digital economy. As more and more of the goods and services we as individuals and businesses buy become virtual, national borders start blurring and tax frameworks become more complex. South Africa is no different, and, from the start of April 2019, important changes around foreign electronic service providers’ obligations to charge VAT to South African customers came into effect.

At Workonline, we pride ourselves on building long term partnerships with our clients rather than merely being a connectivity provider, and hence we feel that it is important to take the lead in alerting our partners to changes such as this one, and what it may mean for their businesses.

In brief, this update to the tax regime in South Africa means that foreign companies supplying electronic services, such as streaming content, where the foreign company has a billing relationship with a South African end-user, will most likely have to charge these end-users value-added tax (VAT). To unpack these changes and highlight what our customers need to know and do, we turned to Simone Esch, senior tax advisor at Themis Law Chambers, for expert insight.


By Simone Esch, senior tax advisor at Themis Law Chambers


On 1 April 2019 South Africa’s National Treasury put into effect the amended regulations regarding electronic services for purposes of the South African Value Added Tax Act (“Amended Regulations”), the intention thereof being mainly to reduce the risk of distortions in trade between foreign and domestic suppliers. According to National Treasury, not having to pay VAT gives an unfair advantage to non-resident suppliers.

This means that foreign suppliers of “electronic services” as defined by the Amended Regulations, which amount to more than R1 million over the preceding 12 months, will be obliged to register for VAT in South Africa. For the consumer enjoying these electronic services in South Africa, this could mean an additional cost of 15%.

The Amended Regulations have widened the definition of “electronic services” to include any electronic services supplied by an electronic agent, electronic communication or the Internet for any consideration, except for:

1. Educational services supplied by a place in an export country and regulated by an educational authority in terms of the laws of that export country;
2. Telecommunications services; and
3. Cross-border intergroup supplies that are used exclusively by the SA resident group company.

What do they mean by “telecommunication services”?

A definition for “telecommunications services” has not been adequately provided in the Amended Regulations. However, our view is that the definition would be similar, if not identical, to the definition provided for “electronic services” included in the South African Electronic Services Act No 36 of 2005, which is defined as:

“the emission, transmission or reception of information, including without limitation, voice, sound, data, text, video, animation, visual images, moving images and pictures, signals or a combination thereof by means of magnetism, radio or other electromagnetic waves, optical, electromagnetic systems or any agency of a like nature, whether with or without the aid of tangible conduct, but does not include content service.”

In other words, the transmission of information via cell phones, fibre etc would not be subject to tax but the actual information or data conveyed/transmitted via these mediums would be subject to tax.

For many electronic suppliers this definition would not provide much certainty leaving their individual status subject to interpretation and the particular facts and circumstances of the cross-border supply. Should no additional clarification be provided by the South African government the definition will no doubt need to be determined by SA courts. It is worth consulting a local tax expert if you are unsure of your organisation’s status.

South African law

A foreign supplier of “electronic services” as defined in the Amended Regulations above will be carrying on an “enterprise” for VAT purposes and thus be required to register for VAT in South Africa in terms of the VAT Act where:

  1. such “electronic services” are supplied from a place in an export country and at least two of the following three circumstances are present:
    1. The recipient of the electronic services is a resident of South Africa;
    2. Any payment made to the foreign supplier for the supply of the electronic services originates from a bank registered in South Africa in terms of the Banks Act 94 of 1990; or
    3. The recipient of the electronic services has a business, residential or postal address in South Africa; and
  2. The total value of the taxable supplies made by the foreign supplier of electronic services in South Africa has exceeded R1 million within any consecutive 12-month period. This compulsory registration threshold is the same as for local suppliers.

What about intermediaries and platforms?

Currently neither the VAT Act nor the Amended Regulations provide for intermediaries and platforms to be the principal supplier of the electronic services. However, further amendments have been proposed to address this, including that where a supplier uses an intermediary to deliver services to the end-user, the intermediary would be deemed to be the supplier for VAT purposes if it facilitates the supply and is responsible for invoicing and collecting payment for the service.

For example, iTunes or the Apple App store would be considered the supplier even though the music and apps they sell belong to third parties. Conversely, a pure-play intermediary platform could be exempt from the VAT obligation if it is only facilitating a service for a third-party supplier.

How do I, as a foreign supplier of electronic services, comply?

Foreign electronic services suppliers who are obliged to register for VAT in South Africa can register by using the procedures provided by SARS – see the useful links below.

Good to know:

  • Foreign electronic services suppliers who are obliged to register for VAT in South Africa are not required to have a bank account in South Africa.
  • It is possible to register for VAT on a “payments” basis – in other words, the VAT only becomes due when the cash flows.
  • Foreign electronic suppliers are not subject to the standard VAT registration procedures. The South African Revenue Service (“SARS”) has created a unique subset on its electronic filing system to cater for these specific vendors.
  • After completing and signing the VAT Application Form (see link below) it should be emailed together with the supporting documents to SARS at:
  • SARS will process the application and set the date from which the foreign electronic services provider is required to commence charging VAT to South African customers at the standard rate (currently 15%).
  • SARS requires that an electronic services supplier must issue a tax invoice for a supply of electronic services containing, as a minimum, the following information:
    (a) The name and VAT registration number of the electronic services supplier.
    (b) The name and address of the electronic services recipient.
    (c) An individual serialised number.
    (d) The date of issue.
    (e) A description of the electronic services supplied.
    (f) The price for the service in the currency of any country. If the consideration is reflected in the currency of –
    i. South Africa, the amount of the VAT charged or a statement that it includes a charge for the VAT and the rate at which the VAT was charged; or
    ii. any country other than the Republic, the amount of the tax charged in the currency of the Republic or a separate document issued by the electronic services supplier to the electronic services recipient reflecting the amount of VAT charged in South African Rands.
    (g) The exchange rate used.


Useful links:

You can register for VAT via the South African Revenue Services (SARS) website.
Using this form: VAT101 - Value Added Tax Registration Application - External form

About Simone Esch
Simone Esch, a qualified Chartered Accountant CA(SA) and holder of a higher diploma in tax law, is a Senior Tax Advisor at Themis Law Chambers. Find her on LinkedIn.

About Workonline Communications
Workonline (AS 37271) is the fastest growing IP transit network in Africa, and one of the top three largest in Africa. The company is focused on providing highly scalable, high quality, and flexible service options to meet the needs of carriers, Internet service providers, content providers, and mobile operators. Visit, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


Workonline partnered with Edgelink to enable them to grow in their market in Kenya.

A Nairobi-based ISP, Edgelink Communications, signed up for Workonline IP transit services early this year. “Our clients complaints stopped instantly and all issues regarding throughput and stability became a thing of the past,” says Edgelink Network Engineer, Mr. Victor Muhia.

“We needed to move to the next level in terms of quality of service, access to CDNs, have network stability and enjoy the services of a well-peered network. The support we have received during the on-boarding process left us speechless and we have since never looked back. It is so refreshing for us to work with a partner who specialises in wholesale and doesn’t compete with its customers,” Mr. Muhia continues.

The relatively young ISP provides Internet, local loop, and IP TV services to corporates, resellers and the retail market. Edgelink’s initial teething problems with throughput and stability were due to the intermittent nature of its early wireless platform. As its customer base grew, there was a need to migrate to a fibre platform, which was critical in improving the quality of services as well as minimising the churn of clients. Most important for Edgelink was to provide services with low latency and access to CDNs such as Netflix and Google Global Cache (GGC).

Another critical success factor was the collaboration with a key partner, Workonline Communications, that has enabled Edgelink to compete at an entirely different level within its local market. One of the critical benefits of the Workonline partnership has been the acquisition of an autonomous system number (ie AS328438). Edgelink can now brand its services like any other established ISP and peer at the Kenya Internet Exchange Point (KIXP).

Building on this solid base, Edgelink has now set its sights on future expansion with the plan to open a new metro PoP in Kenya.


Workonline deploys RPKI-based BGP Origin Validation to build a more secure Internet

 On 1 April 2019 Workonline Communications became the first African wholesale IP transit provider to deploy Resource Public Key Infrastructure (RPKI) Origin Validation (OV) to improve the security of Internet routing around the world. The company also leads the way globally, as one of the early adopters of the security technology.

 A specialised public key infrastructure (PKI) framework, RPKI is designed to secure the Internet's routing infrastructure. Traditional PKI ensures the authentication of certain online activities such as ecommerce transactions, Internet banking or secure email by cryptographically validating that a specific public key belongs to a particular entity, via a digital certificate stored in a central registry. Successful authentication tells the user that, for instance, they are indeed interacting with their bank’s website and can confidently proceed with the transaction.

 RPKI, on the other hand, validates Internet number resource information, for instance autonomous system numbers and IP numbers, shared between the backbone networks that make up the Internet, to help ensure that online traffic doesn’t get hijacked or misdirected either intentionally or accidentally. RPKI OV adds a layer of security to the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) so that when routing decisions are made, operators can more certain that the available routes are legitimate.

This means that Workonline’s customers can be confident that their Internet traffic will reach the destination it is intended for. At one end of the spectrum it stops traffic being misdirected because a human entered incorrect AS and IP numbers, and at the other extreme, it guards against criminals deliberately hijacking IP routes.

Thought leader and driving force behind the deployment of RPKI around the world, Job Snijders, Internet Architect at NTT Communications, says: “By joining global industry leaders such as AT&T and Cloudflare in deploying RPKI, Workonline is actively protecting its customers from mistaken and fraudulent routing. In addition, it is helping all other networks, whether or not they have a direct relationship. Workonline honouring RPKI ROAs published by other operators increases the security of Internet routing for all.”

“This security enhancement was a natural next step in our mission to connect Africa to the world and the world to Africa. As well as the clear security benefits, this ensures that our customers’ traffic to and from Africa is accurately and safely routed. Another win is that RPKI in fact helps prevent network performance degradation by ensuring higher quality routing by rejecting any invalid BGP announcements,” says Edward Lawrence, Director of Business Development at Workonline.

“The RPKI and the Origin Validation mechanisms have been around a long time, but large Internet network operators deploying at scale is a relatively new phenomenon. We’re hoping that by moving early, we will be able to gather some much needed operational experience that can be shared with the rest of the industry to accelerate adoption across the board. It’s a substantial advance in making the Internet a more secure and robust system” said Ben Maddison, Director of Network Operations at Workonline.  

Becoming a global leader in RPKI implementation is the latest milestone in Workonline’s overall commitment to Internet routing security improvement. Workonline was also the first African network to sign up to the Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing and Security (MANRS), a global initiative, supported by the Internet Society, that seeks to reduce the most common routing threats through cooperation among its members. Furthermore, Workonline regularly runs BGP training sessions to support its customers’ network engineers in maintaining high quality routing practices.

How does RPKI work?

RPKI resource certificates give network operators verifiable proof of ownership of a resource’s allocation or assignment by a Regional Internet Registry (RIR). Network operators can create cryptographically-verifiable statements -- Route Origin Authorisations (ROAs) --  about the route announcements they authorise for the prefixes they own. Only the legitimate holder of the IP prefix can create a RPKI ROA using their resource certificate. Other network operators can use RPKI validator software to download and validate these ROAs, and then confidently use ROAs as input into their Internet route filtering.

It is an initiative driven by the global Internet industry, with Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)-defined technical specifications. For more information on BGP Prefix Origin Validation:

About Workonline Communications

Workonline (AS 37271) is the fastest growing IP transit network in Africa, and one of the top three largest in Africa. The company is focused on providing highly scalable, high quality, and flexible service options to meet the needs of carriers, Internet service providers, content providers, and mobile operators. Visit, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.