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EXCLUSIVE: Will the Mauritius Supreme Court shake-up internet across Africa?

By Kévin Poireault
Posted on Friday, 10 September 2021 08:20, updated on Tuesday, 14 September 2021 17:32

Youths are seen browsing the internet inside the venue of the launch of Google free wifi project in Lagos, Nigeria July 26, 2018.REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

A conflict arose between Afrinic, a wholesale distributor of blocks of IP addresses that allows access to the Internet on the continent, and Cloud Innovation, an obscure company registered in the Seychelles and controlled by a Chinese-based internet developer. At the heart of the matter: who has the right to use these addresses allocated to Africa?

A little late to the party, the African continent has received a small but precious portion of a rare commodity: IP address blocks. As a reminder, these numbers serve to identify each device connected to the internet (whether that be a smartphone, tablet, or computer), so that it can access sites and services for the user.

The older ones, which are grouped under the acronym IPv4 (Internet Protocol Version 4), are limited in number and, more importantly were often distributed long ago, so their market value has exploded in recent years.