Outdated in most markets and set to run out in 2017, IPv4 addresses are still in wide use in Africa even though they trigger additional Internet security issues, and make it increasingly difficult and more expensive for networks to add new devices and users to their networks,

To encourage the uptake of newer and safer Internet Protocol version six (IPv6) across the continent, Liquid Telecom Kenya is rolling out IPv6 addresses to all its customers in Kenya, and Zimbabwe, then across its other markets in Africa.

“IPv6 has been rolled out seamlessly to our home user customers and we are working with our business customers to help them exploit this technology on their office networks to better harness ICT to achieve their business goals,” said Ben Roberts, CEO of Liquid Telecom Kenya.

Liquid Telecom sees the transition to IPv6 as urgent and mandatory for firms; as IPv6 will enable a whole new ranges of technology by facilitating the Internet of Things with end-to-end connections for devices interconnecting everything from kitchen appliances to automobiles.

Compared to UPv4, IPv6 has limitless IP addresses, at 2 to the power of 128 addresses (340 trillion trillion trillion): that is more addresses than there are cells in every human body on the planet and more than Africa’s growing population with Kenya alone expected to hit 62 million in 2030.

“We are almost eating into the last block of 16 million addresses of the IPv4 space that the regional internet registry for Africa, (AFRINIC) has available.  This means we are soon entering a new phase where getting IPv4 addresses will become far more difficult and eventually impossible – there won’t be any more to give. So it is important that ISPs start to deploy IPv6,” said Andrew Alston, Liquid Telecom Group Head of IP strategy.

Designed by Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn in 1981, IPv4 has just 4 billion IPv4 addresses, far less than the global growth in the number of devices which saw the world start to run out of IPv4 addresses, initially in 2011, in Asia, and then in Europe in 2012, Latin America in 2014, and last year in North America.

With a presence in 12 markets across Africa, Liquid Telecom is extending this roll out to the rest of the markets after Kenya and Zimbabwe commending the two countries for 2X uptake of  IPv6.

However, Liquid Telecom is not working alone to increase the adoption of IPv6, AfriNIC, Africa’s Regional Internet Registry has been working with governments, universities and corporations to drive up the rate of deployment, with the allocation of Ipv6 addresses to providers proceeding as expected, even though few providers are deploying them.