DCA’s governance model for domain name “.Africa” a shared vision at ICANN Nairobi

In the ICANN Nairobi conference held between 7 -12 March 2010, the African ICANN Community shared the same vision for the governance model as DotConnectAfrica (DCA), on how the “.africa” domain is to be managed.

The CEO of ICANN Rod Beckstrom in his opening remark acknowledged the top level domain name “africa” for the African community. In an interview by a local newspaper, representative from the ICANN African technical community namely AfNog & AfriNic both acknowledged that the domain should be managed by a non-profit organization & profits should be distributed to projects of capacity building http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000005 ,a shared vision with DCA’s governance model says Ms. Njeri Riongie, who recently joined as Board Advisor to DCA. Additionally, the above individuals echoed, the African community should have a say before the name is registered, which is a standard process for ICANN that grants a public comment period before the name is registered.

At the ICANN open public forum, business representatives and ICT experts like Mr. David Svarrer representing Digital Age Institute based in Nairobi, stated ” When I first came to Kenya over 10years ago, a lot of people thought ICT in africa was impossible. I said Africa makes progress in leaps where ICT is concerned. I have nearly over 60k constituents & we primarily work on software development and promoting Africa as an outsourcing destination. I was a .com but would be proud to champion .africa with DCA’s efforts. I would be among the first to move to .africa, and urge for the speedy registration of the name”. Ms. Caroline Juma, Managing Director of Kenya Computer Resources Ltd, said “I am here today to give my support for the.africa domain registration as championed by Sophia Bekele/ DCA.. Different countries in Africa are currently looking at ways of working together in the ICT arena, shared services being the way to go. A .africa domain would be a key enabler in this regard. When promoting and enhancing internet services in Africa, what greater way would it be with a .Africa domain? I remember when .co.ke came and most of us rushed to be .ke, we suddenly found pride in identifying with Kenya, and am one of them, .africa will give us even bigger identity as the giant that Africa is & It will be a positively visible giant through .africa”

In a launch of its newsletter, DCA’s Founder and Executive Director stated ” unlike my regular endeavors, it is a heartfelt importance to me that the governance model for DCA is non-profit so as to accommodate public policy interests and allow incoming surplus to be re-invested back to the community to assist in worthy socio-technological advancement initiatives of Africa”. Quoting Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia in his acceptance speech as the first President of the OAU in 1963 when the OAU was established as a permanent HQ in Addis Ababa, the Founder conveyed “Let us, at this conference, create a single institution to which we will all belong, based on principles to which we all subscribe, confident that in its councils our voices will carry their proper weight, secure in the knowledge that the decisions there will be dictated by Africans and only by Africans and that they will take full account of all vital African considerations”

Ms. Sophia Bekele who is leading the initiative endorsed by AU, is a former elected advisor to the policy organ for the Domain name issuing organization ICANN, also a former elected adviser to United Nation Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to build the first African Information Society Initiative (AISI), and stated in the past “This is an open group”, and advocating a common position and pushing for a single “.Africa” initiative, stated “Most of the loose-knit “African Internet agencies” do not have the mandate to implement the “.Africa” domain, in fact it is a direct conflict of interest with their established mandates. So there is no need to complicate the equation

Agreeing with AU’s position to “establish dot Africa as a continental Top-Level Domain for use by organizations, businesses and individuals with guidance from African Internet agencies”, Ms. Bekele said, “we will welcome guidance from all African Internet agencies in our organized effort; as well as the same from our international partners. While an African project, the “.Africa” domain is an international contract that requires a globally shared experience. Africa is directly affected by decisions made on global internet policies. The narrowly defined “internet community” when ICANN was established over a decade ago is no longer inclusive. Internet use has exploded globally more than 300% since 2000. In this light, DCA’s stakeholders are much broader, therefore, the use of the internet or domain names like any system to be built, should be defined by the end-users and not internet technologist. Let me add that we, the African Diaspora are a big part of the stakeholder ship. We are the 6th region in the African Union

Thus, DCA has developed a conceptual framework for the management of the ‘.africa’ domain with the assistance of the African and International technical community, with a view to increased investments, growth and development for Africans to accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs,) in parallel with marketing the continent to the rest of the world,” said Ms.Bekele. However, DCA welcomes contributions towards this framework.

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