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Taking Stock of Our Africa Strategy

Over two years ago, the African community met in Prague (ICANN 44) for a historic meeting chaired by Dr. Steve Crocker and then incoming President and CEO Fadi Chehade. The outcome was a new approach to Africa focused on:

  • Developing a framework for ICANN's Africa strategy (initial plan announced October 2012);
  • Supporting stronger ICANN presence in Africa;
  • Increasing Africa's participation in ICANN.

The meeting also resulted in the formation of a volunteer, nine-member African Working Group (dubbed Africa Strategy Working Group – ASWG), whose mission it was to develop an African strategy. The group was motivated by the realization that Africa lacked commensurate participation in the ICANN ecosystem to compliment her emerging economies.

In fact, the ministerial meeting held alongside the ICANN Dakar meeting in October 2011 had issued a communiqué calling on ICANN to increase its presence in Africa.

This group developed the current 2012 – 2015 Africa Strategic Plan with support from the African community. The initial plan was presented during ICANN 45 in Toronto and launched in January 2013.

Quite a journey!

Subsequently, there has been much effort and goodwill in the implementation of this document, which largely focuses on capacity building and increasing awareness about ICANN, Internet governance issues, as well as building a sustainable DNS industry in Africa. ICANN also established its presence in Africa with three dedicated staff members.

However, ICANN has received feedback, which shows an urgent need for a review of the strategic plan and revisions to some of its objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs). It is imperative that our strategic plan evolve with the needs of the community, while also aligning with the current ICANN 2016-2020 strategic plan.

Since the launch of the Africa plan, it is important to recognize Africa's improved awareness about ICANN and the greater Internet ecosystem. In response to this clear direction, our community will convene a special consultative session during the upcoming AFRINIC 21, scheduled for November 22-28, 2014 in Mauritius. During this meeting, we will engage and work with you to re-evaluate the Africa Strategy. Representatives from AFNOG, AFRINIC, AFTLD, GAC, AFRALO, AFICTA, NEPAD and African Registrars associations are invited.

Some of the topics we will discuss include:

  1. How do we improve Africa's participation in ICANN?
  2. How do we grow and monetize the DNS industry in Africa through partnership and collaboration?
  3. How do we determine the modalities of appointing a Steering Committee to oversee the implementation of the Africa Strategy going forward.

With six of the world's fastest growing economies coming from Africa and the youngest population in the world (U.N. data), this presents an opportunity for you to define your own agenda and take leading roles in ICANN and the wider Internet space.

Start active and meaningful participation in ICANN and make Africa's voice heard and her influence felt by seizing the opportunities in the DNS industry.


    Domain Name System
    Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."