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Governance Africa Internet stakeholders want ICANN in Africa for Africa

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Internet stakeholders want ICANN in Africa for Africa

Internet stakeholders want ICANN in Africa for Africa.

Ensuring a stronger presence for ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) in Africa through increased African participation is one of the main issues raised by stakeholders at the Africa Strategy and Looking Ahead session at ICANN 55 hosted this week in Morocco.

In his opening remarks as the session's coordinator, the CEO of.ZA Central Registry, Lucky Masilela, thanked the African community for their support for the .africa application saying ".africa is here. We are just having the last hurdle of the steeple chase...We are at the point whereby when the board on the third of this month sat and resolved that the delegation of .africa must go ahead and they authorised the President and CEO of ICANN to delegate .africa. The lights were almost going green when on the fourth suddenly there was a temporary restraining order that was issued that prohibited the delegation of .africa."

Masilela added that a court case has been set for 4 April "where all merits regarding the case would be discussed" and if successful, .africa is likely to go live and running afterwards.

Sally Costerton of the Global Stakeholder Engagement disclosed that nearly 900 delegates registered as Africans for the meeting which, to her, is impressive and an indication that Africa needs ICANN, and Africa needs ICANN to be in Africa.

On the significant gains in the last three years, in addition to the overall improved visibility of ICANN in Africa, Manager: Stakeholder Engagement, Bob Ochieng mentioned that more countries including Namibia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, and The Gambia have been added to the Governmental Advisory Committee and an African has become one of the Committee's vice chairs.

Ochieng also disclosed that ICANN will open its Africa office in Nairobi's central business district on 1 April. "Participation from different constituencies and communities in Africa will be key for us," he said, "and of course we'll still really focus on capacity building from the technical perspective as well as the business perspective."

The office will serve as the main engagement centre for Africa, with possibility of connecting other satellite offices/centers across Africa and establishing ICANN's foothold in terms of physical presence.

It will also support the three ICANN Africa staff as an institutional engagement focal point.

A key question answered by the VP, Stakeholder Engagement – Africa, Pierre Dandjinou, pertains to the waived registrar insurance requirement in the amount of at least US $1-million for .org by ICANN in order to encourage applicants.

However, accreditation applicants must still sign agreements with registries and begin selling domain names, and it has been suggested that the non-existence of such type of insurance in most African countries impacts on the number of registrars in Africa.

"First of all, the insurance waived came after discussions with the community and was triggered by African registrars," Dandjinou noted. "As to lowering the amount, this has to come to the Board as a policy. Thus discussions should be initiated within the community so that a solution be proposed and worked out."