ICANN to expand in Africa

By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

An initiative aimed at increasing ICANN’s presence and participation
across Africa was recently unveiled.

It was also announced that the plan has received enthusiastic support
of the CEO and Board Chair.

News coming from Toronto, Canada say that leaders of Africa’s Internet
community have also unveiled a comprehensive plan designed to
dramatically increase African involvement in ICANN’s multi-stakeholder

The initiative was presented to ICANN 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.”

Also, 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.”

Furthermore, 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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