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An ICANN initiative to improve internet naming in Africa

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ICANN LogoEven though Africa’s population accounts for 14% of the world population, its internet users are only 6% of the world’s. Africa’s country code top level domains (the country specific domains in the fashion of a .co.zw, or .co.za etc…) are even much less; only 1% of the world’s. These are not rare stats to come across. In a lot of ways they speak to the relevance of the internet’s content to users on the continent and, more importantly, if making content more relevant, would increase participation on the platform. Or the other way.

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A new initiative by ICANN might help. A press release we received from the organisation says the international coordinator of internet naming is looking to increase its presence and participation across the continent. Some of the objectives of the initiative include:

  • Supporting and facilitating competition in the domain name business
  • Strengthening the Country code top-level domain (ccTLD) development in Africa
  • Building capacity in DNS technical operations on the continent
  • Deploying more root servers on the continent
  • Supporting capacity building and internet governance in Africa

A presentation of the ICANN’s new approach to Africa, which is available here for download, has details of the initiative.

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Here is the full release:

Initiative Unveiled to Increase ICANN’s Presence and Participation across Africa

Plan Receives Enthusiastic Support of CEO and Board Chair

TORONTO, Canada, October 17, 2012/ — Leaders of Africa’s Internet community have unveiled a comprehensive plan designed to dramatically increase African involvement in ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model.

The initiative was presented to ICANN (http://www.icann.org) during the organization’s 45th public meeting in Toronto, Canada by the Africa Strategy Working Group (ASWG). It was formed after ICANN’s new President and Chief Executive Officer, Fadi Chehadé encouraged a stronger voice from the African continent in ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model.

“When we met three months ago at the ICANN meeting in Prague, I felt a sense of frustration at our inability to come together and move the Africa agenda forward,” said Chehadé. “It’s incredible what this working group has achieved in such a short period of time by engaging with many concerned groups and individuals through the multi-stakeholder process.”

 

“We employed a bottom-up, open and public process in developing this initiative,” said Nii Quaynor of Ghana, a well-respected Internet leader in Africa and Chair of the ASWG. “We think this plan will lead to dramatically increased African participation in ICANN and greater presence for the organization on the African continent.”

The plan was written with the input and broad support of ICANN’s African community, Africa’s Regional Registry for Internet Number Resources (AFRINIC) and other influential African organizations involved in the Internet ecosystem.

“We are taking a new approach to Africa,” said Tarek Kamel, a Senior Advisor to the ICANN President. “This plan is based on capacity building, business development, specifically developing the Domain Name System (DNS) business in Africa and insuring inclusion.”

The three year initiative, entitled ICANN’s New Approach to Africa, lays out clear goals and milestones and an action plan for the first 12 months.  It is a collaborative effort by AFRINIC, Africa’s Regional Registry for Internet Number Resources and the ICANN community.  The initiative will now be posted for public comment.

Currently, African internet users represent only 6 per cent of Internet users worldwide. This initiative is designed to dramatically increase that number.


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2 thoughts on “An ICANN initiative to improve internet naming in Africa

  1. In a lot of ways they speak to the relevance of the internet’s content
    to users on the continent and, more importantly, if making content more
    relevant, would increase participation on the platform.

    Increasing involvement in domain naming really does very little in solving that problem. Setting up infrastructure, capacity/knowledge/skills AND affordable internet is what will fix that problem.

    Improving ccTLD registration could also “globalise” it, meaning the ccTLDs are now easily registered outside the respective country and therefore you have locals who are unable to register competing with outsiders who do it fast and in an automated manner. Before long, you have domain name squatters and speculators selling domains to locals.

    1. I think one of the most pertinent hindrances to having content on websites is the too technical and mostly manual process of registering domains locally. When people are able to register domains automatically, but still keep some of the local checks in place (e.g. verifying local persons by sending a code via SMS) then it will likely increase the local content as people can act on the fly, try out ideas quickly etc…

      I think the Supporting and facilitating competition in the domain name businessStrengthening the Country code top-level domain (ccTLD) development in AfricaWill help in this regard. Just summarised their objectives here. You can download the pdf for details.

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