ICANN engagement in Africa bears fruit

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers wrapped up its 42nd meeting in Dakar, Senegal, last week, with a commitment to continue supporting developing countries and steps taken to resolve a thorny issue related to management of the new .africa generic top level domian (gTLD).

The meeting attracted the participation of African governments and civil society groups as well as private and public sector organizations, with an African Union ministerial gathering taking place before the meeting started and a conference for Africa At Large Organization members occurring during the meeting.

When ICANN held its first meeting in sub- Saharan Africa in Cape Town in 2004, many African countries had problems managing their country code Top Level Domains and Internet infrastructure investment was low.

After 2004, ICANN invested in partnerships with AfriNIC, the regional internet registry, the Africa Top Level Domain Organization (AfTLD) and the Africa Network Operators Group (AfNOG) to train and support Internet infrastructure development while the country code Name Supporting Organization within ICANN has provided travel fellowships for African ccTLDs.

"African ccTLDs have benefitted greatly from participating in the ICANN ccNSO processes," said Vika Mpisane, president of AfTLD and general manager of the .ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA). "Some ccTLDs' infrastructure was substantially wanting seven years ago, but has since then improved substantially."

"This was substantially due to their increasing participation in ICANN, which helps expose our ccTLDs to non-African registry providers and ccTLD managers," Mpisane added.