Project Update

Thursday 7 December 2023

How the ICANN Managed Root Server Transforms DNS Resiliency in Africa

Terry Manderson, Vice President, Information Security and Network Engineering-ICANN

How the ICANN Managed Root Server Transforms DNS Resiliency in Africa

In November 2022, a significant milestone was achieved in the world of Domain Name System (DNS) resiliency in Africa with the implementation of the Nairobi ICANN Managed Root Server (IMRS) Cluster followed by the Cairo IMRS installation in October this year. This revolutionary development brought about a transformative shift in DNS resiliency across the African continent, particularly in Kenya and Egypt. In this blog, we will explore the data and statistics that highlight the impact of the two recent IMRS servers deployment on DNS queries to IMRS on Root Zone DNS resilience throughout Africa.

Kenya: A Hub of DNS Root Zone Resiliency

Kenya, often considered a technological hub in Africa, witnessed a remarkable transformation in its DNS resiliency landscape. The Nairobi IMRS Cluster, once implemented, played a pivotal role in this transformation. It became the focal point for DNS queries to IMRS, handling approximately 700 queries per second (qps). This represented a substantial 39% of the total DNS traffic of the African region to IMRS root servers as seen by the IMRS Global footprint. 

Egypt: A Shift in DNS Queries

The story in Egypt is equally compelling. Before the deployment of the Cairo IMRS installation, the majority of Egypt's root zone queries to IMRS (as seen by the constellation of IMRS instances around the world) were being served by the Prague IMRS Cluster. However, following the Cairo IMRS installation, the situation underwent a significant shift. The Cairo installation now handles an impressive 90% of the country's DNS queries for the root zone served by IMRS instances. This shift can be attributed to the operational routing policies of various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) throughout the African region.

Impact on Africa as a Whole

To gain a holistic view of the impact of the new IMRS installation on the African continent, let's compare root zone DNS query distribution to IMRS instances from Africa before and after the Cairo IMRS installation:

Prior to the Cairo IMRS Installation:

  • 60% were served by the Nairobi cluster (~600 QPS).
  • 20% were served by the Prague IMRS Cluster (~200 QPS).
  • 10% were served by the Morocco IMRS instance (~100 QPS).
  • 10% were served by other IMRS instances (~100 QPS).

After the Cairo IMRS Installation:

  • 40% are served by the IMRS cluster in Nairobi.
  • 30% by the new Cairo IMRS installation.
  • 10% by the Morocco instance.
  • 5% by the Prague IMRS cluster.
  • The remainder, 15%, is distributed among other IMRS instances.

This comparison clearly demonstrates the transformative effect of the IMRS Cluster in Nairobi and the new Cairo IMRS installation on the DNS resiliency landscape in Africa. With these installations in place, African countries are better equipped to handle the increasing volume of root zone DNS queries, ensuring a more robust and reliable Internet experience for users across the continent. It is worth mentioning that these installations also enable traffic to remain local within the continent, which may reduce latency and further enhance the overall performance of the Internet infrastructure.

In summary, the implementation of the Nairobi Cluster and Cairo IMRS installation has brought about a significant enhancement in general DNS resilience across Africa. These clusters have not only shifted the balance of root zone DNS queries to IMRS but have also contributed to  strengthening the region's digital infrastructure. As Kenya and Egypt lead the way, other African nations can look forward to enhanced DNS resiliency, fostering a more connected and reliable Internet ecosystem for years to come.

For more information ICANN-Managed Root Server (IMRS) Infrastructure