Africa's internet body hit with sexual harassment cover-up claims

11 May 2018


ICT Sex harassment

Special report The body responsible for allocating internet network addresses across Africa has been enveloped in yet another scandal, resulting in calls for the entire board to step down.

Afrinic is one of the world's five regional internet registries (RIRs) and plays a critical role in the internet's global infrastructure. But this week some of its members may call for the dissolution of the entire organization after its Board refused to table a motion of no confidence in themselves.

That no-confidence call followed the resignation of Afrinic's chair and vice-chair in response to a sexual harassment case, the delayed release of a report into related management failings, a failed effort to force through an unpopular policy, and growing factionalism inside the increasingly political body between French-speaking and non-French speaking members.

For a body that is supposed to serve a purely technical function and whose members are largely ISPs that want Afrinic to run as smoothly and drama-free as possible, the situation has become untenable. It is rumored that board members from other regional internet registries are flying to the organization's meeting this week in Dakar, Senegal in an effort to keep it afloat.

At the heart of the scandal is a formal complaint made in March by the company's head of external relations, Vymala Poligadu. She alleged that she had been sexually harassed by Afrinic's chair Sunday Folayan, vice-chair Hytham El-Nakhal and finance director Patrisse Deesse. She also alleged that they had been actively plotting to get her fired from her position. Read the full article on The Register here.