ICANN's CEO and President Fadi Chehadé was at the group's Multistakeholder Internet Governance meeting in Africa this week with the message that it is a new season at ICANN and Africa has a big role to play.
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has identified training, policy engagement, partnerships, incubation and entrepreneurship as the key areas in implementing its Africa strategy.
That strategy was unveiled last August and was meant to find ways to improve Africa's participation within the Internet's governing body.
"In order to make this reality, ICANN has to change; it has been America-centric, because the Internet has its history in the USA, but now, all of us own the Internet and have a role to play in Internet growth," said Chehadé.
Chehadé announced that ICANN global operations will be offered from three hubs, Los Angeles, Istanbul and Singapore, to cover the major time zones. The Istanbul office will have an IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) liaison, who will be African and will understand African issues. Many African countries are still struggling with management of country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs).
"We need more money and resources in Africa; we will partner with existing organizations," Chehadé said. Those include the Africa Telecommunications Union, the ITU, the Internet Society, AfriNIC and the African Union. The ICANN representative in the Indian Ocean will be stationed at AfriNIC offices in Mauritius, he added.
ICANN has arranged to hold DNS Security Extension (DNSSEC) workshops in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Tunisia, Egypt and South Africa.
One of the major challenges facing Africa is lack of development in the DNS business, with many people in the region depending on international companies and services. Currently, Africa has five ICANN-accredited registrars.
"ICANN is willing to work hard with partners in Africa to raise the number of accredited registrars from the current five to 25 in the next 18 months. We will sit with the ICT industry and understand what we can do to make the Registrar Accreditation Agreement more Africa-friendly. It may take partnerships with banks and the insurance industry," Chehadé said.
Working with local businesses to promote growth in the DNS industry will also promote employment and business growth in the region, he said.