The 42nd international meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) took place in Dakar, Senegal, at the Le Meridien President hotel. The meeting was hosted by the Government of the Republic of Senegal and was well-attended by government leaders and executives of ICANN, and various stakeholders.
DotConnectAfrica (DCA) was one of the principal participants and silver-level sponsor of the ICANN-42 international gathering, and was involved in various activities that took place throughout the week-long meeting in Dakar. DCA also mounted a well-attended exhibition on DotAfrica, and its Yes2DotAfrica campaign, which was visited by the Senegalese President and Head of State, H.E. Monsieur Abdoulaye Wade, and the Senegalese Minister for Telecommunications and Information/Communications Technologies, Monsieur Moustapha Guirassy.
ICANN-42 was a great opportunity to focus positive attentions on DCA’s Yes2DotAfrica Campaign, and we are pleased to present a summary of the main activities and important accomplishments for the benefit of our Pan-African constituency.
DCA at the African Ministerial Roundtable
Prior to the ICANN meeting, DCA attended the African Ministerial Round Table that took place from 19th-21st October, 2011 where the issue of .africa was discussed and a communiqué released asking ICANN to add the names africa,.afrique, and .afrikia to the reserved names list for the benefit of the African Union. During the meeting, we emphasized what we have always believed; our commitment to the open, transparent and competitive globally-accepted ICANN process as per the new gTLD Applicant Guidebook. DCA successfully made its case that the DotAfrica name string is not at risk, and as such does not deserve any special legislative protection and could be applied for through the ICANN new gTLD programme.
First ICANN meeting in a Francophone African country
The Dakar meeting was significant for the DotConnectAfrica’s Yes2DotAfrica initiative since it was the first ICANN international meeting ever hosted in a French-speaking country in Sub-Saharan African. DCA introduced the .africa initiative to the French speaking African communities and Internet societies and used the opportunity to establish a highly effective and successful media outreach to French-language TV, newspaper, and Internet news organizations, thus enabling a certain Franco-phone constituency that is now more aware of current issues about the DotAfrica gTLD.
The place of Africa on the Internet
A common theme during the ICANN Dakar meeting was the place of developing regions, particularly Africa, on the future of the Internet. As noted by the Senegalese President, H.E. Abdoulaye Wade , “our continent is not at the heart of strategic operations of the Internet” and reaffirmed that there was need for Africans to have more access to the Internet by having more computers, to be part of this “registry of human knowledge”. We left Dakar with the conviction that this meeting acted as a catalyst for a greater involvement of Africa on policy deliberations at ICANN in the near future.
There were calls for participants from developing countries to take a more active part in discussions on the Internet and a resolve for the community to further develop proposals to be submitted to ICANN Board for consideration on the convening of this summit. DCA, as the organization that first proposed .africa and that has accomplished a respectable body of work in sensitizing African Internet communities on the importance of the new gTLDs, particularly .africa, will continue putting Africa on the digital map in both continental and global platforms. We believe the time has come for Africa to fully embrace and be more involved in the multistakeholder process of Internet governance.
DCA’s DotAfrica Exhibition in Dakar attracts many visitors
Since DotConnectAfrica was also a Silver -level sponsor of the ICANN Dakar meeting, it also had the privilege of mounting an exhibition of DotAfrica in line with our continued support for the inclusion of Africa in the discussion floor on Internet issues. DCA has now sponsored two ICANN meetings. Our exhibition booth in Dakar was a popular stop for participants interested in the new .africa gTLD initiative. As Africans, we always embrace initiatives that unify our continent and many participants in Dakar who visited our exhibition stand had high hopes for a Pan-African new generic Top Level Domain name. We were deeply inspired by the demonstration of great enthusiasm for .africa by all those who visited DCA’s DotAfrica exhibition at Dakar.
Our Continued Commitment to work in Cooperation with African ccTLDs
As the commencement date of the application window for the new gTLDs draws closer, DCA once again extends an invitation to African ccTLD registries to join us and participate as stakeholders in our .africa initiative. Many of you have come by our stand in Dakar and expressed interest and say you will support our efforts as well and we were very humbled. This will ensure that we synergize our efforts in areas such as policy development, involvement of various communities, technical expertise, capacity building, and cross-marketing at a local level and other areas of interest to make .africa a success based on a resounding win-win outcome for everybody. Expressions of Interest can be sent to EOI@dotconnectafrica.org for more information. We have proposed a cross marketing model that will see revenues from .africa reinvested in strengthening participating African ccTLDs and we welcome your further input on this issue before the application window opens.
AFRALO Showcase ICANN 42 Dakar:
DotConnectAfrica also attended the AFRALO, the African Regional At Large Organization, showcase in Dakar as well as the AFRALO general assembly. Various regional At Large Structures (ALS) leaders came forward in resplendent African fashion and attire and represented various constituencies of individual African internet users. Indeed AFRALO has defied great odds and has truly come of age in ensuring the participation of Africa in policy deliberations and discussions at ICANN since its inception during the ICANN Lisbon meeting in 2007. We salute the AFRALO leadership and the various ALS for their sacrifice and great efforts in ensuring the voice of Africa is heard and for helping entrench the multistakeholder model in Africa.
Promoting African women in the DNS Industry in Dakar
One of our more visible campaigns in the last two ICANN meetings has been miss.africa that draws inspiration from such initiatives as the DNS Women’s Group and through which we hope to motivate more young African women to take a strong interest in the DNS industry in the continent, with a view to gender mainstreaming and outreach. Miss.africa is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme that was launched in Singapore by the Yes2dotAfrica Campaign in June 2011. Its core aim is to create ICT self-awareness and digital empowerment of young women in Africa.
In Dakar, once again, our miss.africa volunteers from Senegal got the chance to learn about domains, the larger new gTLD program and other pertinent issues at the centre of Internetgovernance and policy deliberations. We hope to sponsor more young women leaders in the future to attend conferences and help shape the future of the Internet in Africa.
DCA at the ICANN Dakar public Forum
DCA also took the opportunity of attending the ICANN Public Forum meeting in Dakar to seek certain clarification from the ICANN Executive leadership regarding the communiqué that was submitted by African Ministerial Round-Table meeting asking the ICANN Board to reserve the .africa .afrique and .afrikia name strings for the benefit of the African Union Commission.
Engaging interactively with ICANN Leaders at the forum, DCA Executive Director and spearhead of the Yes2DotAfrica campaign Ms Sophia Bekele made a strong statement on this issue and urged that “ICANN and the global community not to entertain any requests to include DotAfrica on the list of reserved names. She also re-stated her firm opinion that “DotAfrica and similar name strings should only be applied for through the ICANN new gTLD program.” ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom, while acknowledging the receipt of the AU-sponsored communiqué from the African Minsiterial Round-Table, also added that the rules of the of the new gTLD application process were “published and quite clear”. The ICANN CEO promised that the ICANN Board will respond publicly to all the 12 points of the Communique. DCA eagerly awaits the outcome of the ICANN response and hopes that the official reply by the ICANN Board will again vindicate DCA’s faith in the multi-stakeholder model.
DCA at the launch of the OSCAR TICE Program in Dakar
Finally, DCA had the privilege of attending the launch of the OSCAR TICE competition by the Minister of ICT in Senegal Monsieur Moustapha Guirassy, an initiative sponsored by USAID that will measure the degree of integration of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Senegalese colleges by awarding colleges with best website. The competition is aimed at building support for the educational community to provide quality education to children in Senegal. Some 128 colleges in will compete in this laudable initiative.
Dakar was therefore a crucial meeting for Africa and for the .africa initiative and also a great success. As the last ICANN meeting before the commencement of the new gTLD application process, DotConnectAfrica again put forward a final case before Africa for the urgent need of a unified internet presence and we believe the message was well received!
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