ICANN MEETING IN CAPE TOWN DISCUSSES AFRICAN INTERNET PROBLEMS

Internet

The ICANN meeting held last week in Cape Town discussed a wide range of issues. The following summary is drawn from a range of reports from different countries:

- As anticipated ICANN approved AfriNIC becoming the fifth domain name registry in the world.

- A report in Nigeria's Guardian bemoaned the country's lack of direct involvement in setting up AfriNIC and the lack of any Ministerial presence at the meeting. Chairman of AfriNIC, Pierre Dandjinou and the continental body's CEO, Adiel Akplogan said they were alarmed at Nigeria's lack of representation despite all assurances. Also of AfriNIC's 53 African-member nations, only Nigeria failed to send a representative.

- South Africa's Minister of Communications continued that country's lobbying for a stronger Government hand on the running of the internet (see People below).

- A Sudanese delegate told the meeting: "In Sudan we started what is called the Free Internet system where internet users only paid for local call costs and not ISP costs," he began, "The number of internet users tripled impressively. Then the numbers stopped growing and we found out it was because many Sudanese people did not have access to computers to enable them to connect to the Internet in the first place."

- "If you want to bridge the internet gap between yourself and someone else, you have to run faster," said Clement Dzidonu, a member of the regional Internet group Africa At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC). He added: "But how can we bridge the digital divide if we are not engaging our communities? Charity begins at home and by home I mean both at the individual country and organisational level. For ALAC the issue of governance is more about people engagement and involvement." The African branch of ALAC, was set up to give and encourage Africa's Internet users the opportunity to actively participate in matters and decisions made concerning the internet and how they are affected as users. This is one of several At-Large Communities around the world.

- According to a Highway Africa News report, the meeting discussed Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) which allow URLs to be in the native language of users.