The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has demonstrated its commitment to Africa by launching its first regional strategic plan for Africa.
The initiative was presented to ICANN this week during the organisation’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.
“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.
The ZA Central registry (ZACR), the African Union-endorsed bidder for the proposed .africa domain name extension, has welcomed ICANN’s renewed commitment to African Internet development.
The ICANN Africa Strategy Working Group was constituted after a meeting between ICANN board chair Steve Crocker, Mr Chehade, as well as representatives from various African countries. The working group is chaired by Nii Quaynor, an Internet pioneer from Ghana while other members represent various regions.
African representatives want to be included at ICANN meetings during which representatives from businesses and governments discuss advanced issues such as Domain Name Security Extensions (DNSSEC), IPv6 and the new Generic Top Level Domains. The Africa Working Group has identified business community engagement, training and then enhancement of cooperation between the various Internet constituencies as priorities for the region.
The group has developed an initial plan, which was presented on Monday at the ongoing ICANN Toronto meeting, and it is expected to be incorporated into the wider ICANN strategic plan.
“Africa is a special region with unique challenges and it is wonderful news that ICANN will be implementing a specific plan in consultations with experts from the region,” said Pierre Dandjinou, a member of the Africa Working Group.
Africa Working Group colleague Alice Munyua added,”I commend the steps taken by ICANN, it will enable more African businesses, governments and civil society organisations to participate more in the development of the African Internet sector.
“The African Union is involved in the dotAfrica application process as the sponsoring organisation. This means that governments are involved, while the outreach efforts undertaken by the ZA Central Registry (ZACR) show there is still a need for increased engagement with the Internet community in the region.
“This plan comes at the right time when Internet business is growing in Africa and outreach is needed. We need to have more ICANN accredited registrars in Africa — the African Union is now involved in the dotAfrica new gTLD process; many governments would like to engage ICANN at various levels,” concluded Munyua.