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ICANN IMRS Cluster Brings a More Resilient and Stable Internet to Africa

6 December 2022
By Ashwin Rangan

I am pleased to report that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), in collaboration with regional partners, recently deployed the first ICANN Managed Root Server (IMRS) cluster in Africa. The Nairobi, Kenya-based IMRS cluster improves the Internet's Domain Name System (DNS) infrastructure on the continent, which is crucial to stimulating Internet access and strengthening Internet stability for its users.

Internet users in Africa now have more resilient and stable access to services on the Internet. The new IMRS cluster is located, together with many Internet carriers from across the continent, at the Kenya Internet Exchange Point. As a result, I can report that this new IMRS cluster is now handling 40 percent of all IMRS DNS root queries for the continent. Most African-based Internet DNS root queries are now resolved in Africa. Prior to the IMRS cluster installation, 35 to 40 percent of the DNS query traffic was traveling outside of Africa for resolution. The IMRS cluster also boosts national and regional Internet resiliency by helping root server traffic stay local. This is a remarkable achievement, and I would like to thank all ICANN organization (org) teams that helped make this happen.

This installation also plays an integral role in defending the Root Server System from cyberattacks and keeping the Internet more secure and resilient for users worldwide. One of the most common types of attacks, distributed denial-of-service attacks, works by overwhelming servers with a flood of queries or Internet traffic. The IMRS cluster provides higher bandwidth and data processing capacity to alleviate some of this traffic.

ICANN is no stranger to Africa. We have been actively engaged with the African technical community since the early 2000s. Our ICANN org teams provide capacity-development programs and work closely with local and regional technical community organizations. The installation of the IMRS cluster in Nairobi, Kenya is the result of years of collaboration with organizations, such as the African Network Operators Group, the Africa Top Level Domains Organization, the African Network Information Centre, and the Technology Service Providers of Kenya.

As you may know, networks of DNS root server instances that handle DNS root zone queries are located in many countries around the world. Without these services, the Internet would cease to work for billions of Internet users. Moreover, ICANN is committed to helping the next billion users come online. The IMRS program will be instrumental in making this happen in places where the Internet infrastructure needs to be strengthened. The program supports ICANN's vision of a single, open, and globally interoperable Internet and is one of our organization's contributions to the global public interest. To learn more about ICANN and the DNS, click here.

Crucially, we do not act alone. ICANN does not run the Internet. In fact, no one does. Twelve organizations manage more than 1,000 DNS root server instances around the world. Among these, ICANN oversees about 200 IMRS instances in more than 90 countries.

Prior to the installation of the IMRS cluster in Kenya, ICANN had deployed 14 IMRS instances in 12 African countries. While this may seem like a lot, to help bring potential African Internet users online they will need more Internet infrastructure. All 14 IMRS instances were significantly smaller than Kenya's newly minted IMRS cluster. Its installation will help service over a billion potential users in Africa. As you can see, ICANN is committed to strengthening vital Internet infrastructure in Africa. We have already announced plans to install a second IMRS cluster in Africa. We will keep you posted about our progress in the continent and around the world.


Ashwin Rangan

Ashwin Rangan