The digital pulse of Africa reverberated louder than ever at the 2023 Africa Internet Summit (AIS) in Johannesburg, South Africa. AIS is an annual, regional, multi-stakeholder conference that focuses on information and communication technology. The event aims at fostering innovative ideas and collaborations. This year, it brought together representatives of Africa's business and technical community, attracting 440 online and 280 on-site participants from 71 countries.
Organized by the African Network Operators Group (AfNOG) and hosted by the ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA), AIS'23 took place from 26 to 30 September, with the theme of "Strengthening the multi-stakeholder approach for Internet development in Africa." This summit showcased the critical role of regional and international collaboration, with delegates exploring cross-border partnerships and sharing best practices.
ICANN hosted "ICANN Day" on 28 September, represented by John Crain, Senior Vice-President and Chief Technology Officer, and Pierre Dandjinou, Vice President, Global Stakeholder Engagement – Africa. This event featured sessions on Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC), the next round of new generic top-level domains, Universal Acceptance, and updates from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority and the Coalition for Digital Africa. Prior to the in-person meeting, ICANN conducted two remote technical tutorials on DNSSEC deployment and DNS security.
In addition, while taking advantage of our presence at AIS, and as part of our ongoing efforts to foster collaborative partnerships, we conducted bilateral meetings with several key stakeholders in South Africa. We met with the Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies, led by the Honorable Deputy Minister, Philly Mapulane, and Director-General, Nonkqubela Thathakahle Jordan-Dyani. The discussions highlighted ICANN's long-standing partnership with the Republic of South Africa, which has hosted three global public meetings.
ICANN representatives also met with ZADNA Board Chair, Palesa Legoze, and CEO, Molehe Wesi. Their conversation focused on the role of the administration, management of the .za namespace in compliance with international best practices, and issues such as DNS abuse.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, led by the Council Acting Chair, Dikeledi Cathrine Mushi, and the Councillor, Peter Zimri, also met with ICANN. They discussed shared goals and efforts, such as connecting the unconnected and maintaining the security, stability, and resiliency of the Internet for the benefit of South Africa's Internet users.
ICANN had a booth on-site that provided information on its initiatives, including the ICANN Learn platform, NextGen, and fellowship programs. In tandem with the summit, ICANN, together with the University of Johannesburg, delivered a public lecture to students on Internet governance and the DNS ecosystem. Legal proceedings that involved the African Network Information Centre in Mauritius were a focal point of interest. ICANN expressed its ongoing commitment to the Regional Internet Registry system's long-term viability.
This Summit was more than a conference. It symbolized a collective determination to shape a connected, and digitally inclusive future for the continent.