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The DNS Entrepreneurial Center for the Middle East and Africa Takes Off to a Great Start

22 April 2015

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The business track workshops kickoff to a great start

The domain name space is undergoing an unprecedented expansion with the introduction of over 1,000 new top-level domains, of which over 500 have now been delegated to the root zone. While the vast majority of investors in these new gTLDs come from developed countries, developing countries stand to benefit from this expansion as well. Even within the legacy DNS space, particularly ccTLDs in regions like Africa and the Middle East, the untapped opportunities are enormous.

Supporting this necessary development of the domain name industry in Africa and the Middle East is an important strategic goal for ICANN. Our partnership [PDF, 675 KB] with Egypt's National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) to establish the DNS Entrepreneurial Center (DNS-EC) serving Africa and the Middle East is key to addressing these challenges. The inaugural training sessions of the Center kicked off on March 29 – April 9 in Cairo, Egypt. Over 40 participants from 12 countries attended from ccTLD registries, registrars, ISPs, and IT departments of different organizations.

Two workshops were held, one on "DNS Business Development" and the other on "Registry Best Practices", and were conducted respectively by Tom Barrett of EnCirca, Inc (ICANN Accredited Registrar) / Michele Neylon of Ireland's Blacknight Solutions (ICANN Accredited Registrar), and Giovanni Seppia of EURid / Emily Taylor of Emily Taylor Consultancy Ltd. The workshops focused on the essentials necessary to creating, launching and running a DNS business; the domain name industry value chain; communications and marketing strategies; branding; business continuity. Presented during the sessions were business and marketing plans contributed by several companies including Radix TLD Registry, Tucows's OpenSRS wholesale registrar, ARI's Discovery DNS, .buzz gTLD registry, .club gTLD registry, .me TLD Registry, TLD Registry, Architelos, and DotTBA. In addition, the workshops' interactive nature allowed participants to engage in several group exercises that helped them apply the knowledge gained throughout the course using their TLDs as case scenarios.

ICANN is appreciative to all those who contributed to the program either in person or by providing content and materials.

What did some of the trainers think?

Michele Neylon "One of the reasons I volunteered to get involved with some of ICANN's activities in the Middle East and Africa region was curiosity. I was curious to see and learn what was going on in the region and to interact with people who are active "on the ground. Maybe moving forward ICANN could try to "collocate" training events with other types of activities that would help attract participants from outside the region. Personally I found the DNS workshop to be worthwhile and interesting and I'd encourage other registrars to get involved."

Giovanni Seppia "I believe the DNS workshop well served its purpose of educating representatives of various businesses in the ME region, mainly registries and registrars, about the registry-registrar relations scenarios, ccTLD policy development processes, marketing opportunities and their role to support capacity building and social initiatives in their respective countries/regions. I do hope the workshop is the first step of a path that will help them to broaden their knowledge and perspectives. I appreciated a lot the high interest shown by the attendees in EURid as the registry operator of a quite regulated ccTLD, and their enthusiasm when seeing that despite a complex regulatory framework the .eu registry managed to well cope with all the DNS environment challenges.

I would definitely encourage registries and registrar representatives in participating in similar initiatives in the future."

Tom Barrett "There was a good mix of new TLD launches and on-going TLD sales and marketing plans. The challenge presented with conducting the DNS Business Workshop was that the backgrounds and demographics of the attendees was an unknown. It turned out that most attendees came from well-established organizations focused more on protecting and growing their current business as opposed to launching new businesses. The Business Workshop adapted by conducting interactive SWOT exercises about the Egypt's DNS market. At short notice, attendees from different countries also presented concise and articulate overviews of their respective country DNS markets.

I think this adaptive model was effective and should be incorporated into the agendas of future workshops.

I absolutely would recommend that business leaders take part in the future workshops. Hearing first-hand about the challenges facing DNS businesses in under-served parts of the world helps provide insights about how to be more effective back at home and could identify possible business expansion into new markets."

In continuation with our workshops planned under the DNS-EC project, the technical track will be launched next week with a "Train the Trainer" workshop conducted by ICANN and NSRC in Dubai, UAE (26 – 29 April). The goal of this hands-on training is to expand the local technical expertise by qualifying DNS technical experts to become trainers so that they can transfer the knowledge gained to their communities.


Baher Esmat

Baher Esmat

VP, Stakeholder Engagement - Middle East & Managing Director MEA