Johannesburg — SOUTH Africa's participation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is potentially under threat as local information and communications technology (ICT) service providers shun the latest version of the Internet Protocol (IPv6).
This is according to South Africa's Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA), which noted IPv4 addresses had already run out in every region other than Africa.
Africa is projected to run out of addresses in March 2020.
IPSA stated while there were technical workarounds which could help to mitigate potential adverse consequences, there was ultimately no alternative but to adopt IPv6 across the board if South Africa was going to benefit from technological advances such as 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities.
Alarmingly, however, figures published by Google reflect South Africa's IPv6 adoption at 0,4 percent.
This is substantially behind such as Zimbabwe (6,01 percent) and Gabon (14,38 percent).
South Africa's adoption is well below the global average of 29,44 percent.
Its adoption is the lowest in the Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa (BRICS) bloc.
"IPv6 compliance needs to come out of the basement and into the light so that it can be made SA's Internet issue of the day until it is resolved," said Andre van der Walt, ISPA chairman.
"It's that serious because we cannot let the ICTs that should be the vehicles for positive socioeconomic change slip away due to a simple nuts and bolts compliance issue," he added.
According to ISPA, World IPv6 Launch Day on June 6, 2012 highlighted the need for network operators, ISPs, equipment manufacturers and others to help keep the worldwide web accessible to end users.
Van der Walt lauded AfriNIC, the regional Internet registry, for running a comprehensive series of planning and transition workshops to ensure local network engineers and systems administrators were comfortable implementing and managing IPv6 networks.
"AfriNIC's IPv6 awareness and capacity-building initiatives are to be applauded as they specifically aim to train an impressive 600 network engineers per year," van der Walt said.
IPv6 is the most recent version of the IP, the communications protocol that provides an identification and location system for computers on networks and routes traffic across the internet.
The Internet Engineering Task Force developed IPv6 to deal with the long-anticipated problem of IPv4 address exhaustion.