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Global Internet Organization Calls for Africans to Claim Their Voice on the Internet

A media round-table brought together leaders of regional and global Internet organizations to share perspectives on African representation in the Internet ecosystem, and participation in shaping the Internet’s future.

Led by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and attended by the Internet Society’s Uganda Chapter, and AfRegistrar, the media roundtable took place during the Africa Internet Summit (AIS) at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel.

ICANN has been actively seeking to help raise awareness and build capacities around the domain name system, and the Internet in general across Africa.

As part of this, it has been supporting and holding several activities in the region, including the following, which will take place in Kampala over the next few days: Youth Community (YouthCom) Workshop on 13-14 June; Workshop for African Registries, Registrars and Registrants on 15 June; and the ICANN Day on 16 June. 

“Africa’s digital potential is rising, which makes it imperative for the continent to claim its voice in the global Internet governance and protect its interests,” stressed Pierre Dandjinou, ICANN VP of GSE in Africa.

“With this in mind, ICANN is committed to providing equal opportunities to inform the region’s different communities about the domain name industry, and working with them on how best to not only strengthen Africa’s online presence, but also improve their participation within ICANN. Uganda is no exception,” he added

ICANN helps people connect to each other online. This happens through its coordination of parts of the Domain Name System (DNS), which is at the very root of the Internet functions. It translates computer hostnames into IP addresses, as well as the Internet Protocol addressing system used to route Internet traffic.

Thus, ICANN plays a specific, technical role, acting in the global public interest as the trusted steward of these unique identifier systems of the Internet. With every email, video chat, or online purchase, ICANN is touched in one way or another. Also, ICANN helps protect the resiliency and security of the DNS and of Internet at large.

“ICANN is a very important global partner of ours, and it means a lot to have ICANN org members join us at the Africa Internet Summit, taking place in Uganda for the first time. We need to have this dialogue about the Internet now, and not later; as Africa is not outside the realms of the Internet. Every policy made about the future of the Internet concerns us, too. So, we need to join the decision-makers, and not stay as bystanders” said Lillian Nalwoga, the President of ISOC Uganda Chapter.

“The Internet penetration in Africa is around 37%, still lagging behind with respect to the global penetration rate, 57%. Internet Content is still very very low. Internet Impact on the African Economy is still very poor. Internet access is among the many other obstacles Africa has to overcome with respect to its integration into the global digital economy, including the domain name business. This is why AfRegistrar, in cooperation with other organizations such as ICANN, AfTLD, Africa Union, and ISOC, among others,including the Private Sector, helps in promoting youth job creation, knowledge-sharing and training on issues related to the domain name industry in Africa,” remarked Mouhamet Diop, Chair of AfRegistrar.

“AfRegistrar will work closely with African Regulators, African Union and Private Sector to enable the emergency of a vibrant Internet Environment for the African Economy, with a good and active Internet Governance, in an active and harmonized Broadband Policy and Regulation for African countries” reiterated Mouhamet Diop.

LICANN will hold its next public meeting, ICANN65, in Marrakech, Morocco from 24 to 27 June 2019. ICANN65 is a Policy Forum, focused on policy work and outreach. This will be the 12th time an ICANN meeting is held in Africa.The latest one was ICANN59 in Johannesburg, South Africa, which attracted just over 2,000 registered participants. Those unable to attend ICANN65 in-person are encouraged to participate remotely. Details of the meeting and remote participation are available here.