Virtual Private Networks in Africa

Posted on November 4, 2016 12:14 am

Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Tunisia are among the leading countries in Africa with adoption of Virtual Private Networks (VPN).There are an increasing number VPN service providers available in Africa today.Recent study showed that tech savvy folks are choosing their preferred service providers depending on whether the service includes VPN end points in one or more countries, the type of protocols provided, the level of security,size of the IP address pool used for VPN connections and whether connection details are logged or deleted immediately after you terminate a VPN. Also, according to data in my possession, users are seeking to establish whether the VPN system includes anti-malware and anti-spyware protection, support for mobile devices, reliability and bandwidth as well as what matters most which is price. Have you ever wanted to exist in Kenya and Nigeria at the same time? The laws of physics suggest wormholes through space and time are hypothetical but wormholes do exist in cyberspace and wonders can be found on the other side.I call these cyberspace wormholes virtual private network connections.Just to help you understand, a VPN is a point to point connection between a VPN client and server, or a site to site connection between two VPN servers.Home and mobile users are able to create client on demand VPN connections to the VPN server. All internet-connected devices have a local public or private internet protocol (IP) address. When connected using a VPN the device gains access to the network at the other end of the VPN and is provided with an IP address on the remote network, even though it is not physically there.Most devices that connect to the internet today include VPN client software that can be used to create a VPN tunnel from the client computer to the VPN server. Site to site VPNs are basically created between firewalls and in some instances routers that include VPN server functionality.The most important thing to know about VPNs is that they provide security and privacy through a combination of the point to point tunnelling protocol used and encryption of the information sent over the point to point tunnel using.As the internet has evolved so have the ways in which African population is using VPNs.In several African countries, VPN is being used by teleworkers as a secure connection to their office and more than 200 universities are seeing their students use VPNs to connect to their university.

People can use a VPN to connect to their home network while away from home to transfer photos, documents or other items to home computer or network storage device.However, to understand what makes a VPN special, people need to consider how the internet is being used today by business, government and other organisations such as law enforcement or spying agencies. When it comes to multinationals, they use geo-blocking to segment the world into markets and control access to products and pricing. Business is learning how to identify, gather and track information about us online, and every time people use the internet they leave a trail of data that business collects, analyses and uses for targeted advertising.Governments and spying agencies are also trying to varying degrees to identify, track and limit what people are doing on the internet.In Africa, the reason why VPNs are becoming popular is because they have helped solve how to get around geo-blocking.If a Cape Town resident want to watch a television show that is being broadcast over the internet but is only accessible by viewers in United Kingdom, then the resident can use a VPN to gain access.If Nairobi resident want to buy products from a company and find those products cheaper on, say, the company’s Canada’s online store, the Nairobian resident can use a VPN to gain access to the online store.Using a VPN makes it difficult for anyone to identify and track what you do on the internet.Your traffic is encrypted until it reaches the VPN server at the other end of the VPN tunnel. If the VPN server is in another country it’s not possible for your ISP to determine what is passing over the VPN tunnel.In practice, when you connect to a VPN server in another country your home computer or mobile device will be allocated an IP address in that country, and when you disconnect the IP address would be allocated to the next VPN connection.VPN servers being used to provide inter-country VPN connections often have large pools of IP addresses that are allocated randomly to VPN connections as they occur.Many people, possibly thousands, share a pool of IP addresses and only the VPN service provider would know who is connected to each IP address. That said, VPN service providers that offer inter-country VPN services generally do not keep any records of which IP address was allocated to customer VPNs.For anyone that captures traffic going to and from VPN IP addresses it would appear as a jumble of information that could be attributed to many thousands of people from countries all around the world.There are a huge number of free VPN service providers in Africa especially in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa that provide limited services and gain revenue by serving users with advertisements while they’re connected to the VPN.The most important benefits of using a VPN are security, privacy and anonymity and Africans aren’t gonna be left behind.

Contador Harrison