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The Africa DNS Forum Turns Five

Africa dns forum turns five 17aug17 en

The Africa DNS Forum turned five this year, and what a journey it has been. Held from 26-28 July 2017 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and hosted by TZNIC, we sought to choose a theme that captured the signifance of this journey: "Taking stock of the Africa DNS Industry and planning ahead."

Having reached such an important milestone, I feel that now is an appropriate occasion to not just take stock, but also praise the African Internet community on its efforts throughout the years. It is their hard work and continued participation that has made the Africa DNS Forum into an annual pilgrimage for the regional DNS community. Like any relationship, five years is a major milestone, and the forum is no exception. It continues to provide a rich and effective platform for the exchange of ideas that are aimed at furthering the growth of both the DNS and Internet industry in Africa.

The first ever edition of the Africa Domain Name System (ADNS) forum took place at the International Convention Center (ICC) in Durban, South Africa, from 12-13 July 2013. This was just a few months after I assumed my new role as ICANN's Vice President of Stakeholder Engagement for Africa. The forum was co-organized by ICANN, the Internet Society (ISOC), and Africa Top Level Domains (AfTLD) as a pre-workshop to ICANN47, which was also being held at the ICC from 14-18 July 2013.

After Durban, the ICANN organization, the ICANN community, and our global partners kept the momentum going by making the DNS Forum an annual event with subsequent iterations taking place in 2014 (Nigeria), 2015 (Kenya), and 2016 (Morocco).

Over the years, the AFDNS forum has lived up to its expectations, identifying key national and cross-border issues that continue to challenge the growth of the industry, such as:

  • Registry and registrar strategies (domain name growth, competitive environment)
  • Legal issues (dispute resolutions, cross-border domain registrations)
  • Registrar accreditation (ICANN accreditation and ccTLD accreditation in a borderless environment)
  • Automation (technical capacity and the resiliency of registries, payment gateways, etc.)
  • Governments supporting the growth of ccTLDs

This year's forum participants were noticeably more informed and prepared.The deliberations on the issues mentioned above were rich, honest, and practical. Delegates understood the need to bring on more stakeholders, and engage with new audiences that have traditionally been ignored but still impact businesses, either directly or indirectly.

We also had a full session during the forum dedicated to key findings from ICANN's 2016 Africa DNS Market Study, which was published in June 2017. One of the main recommendations, a DNS Observatory in Africa, was discussed amongst the participants, with unanimous consensus from those participating that AfTLD should take ownership of the project and spearhead its establishment.

The study demonstrates that we are moving ahead in reaching the key objectives of ICANN's Africa Strategy. I strongly believe that together, we have laid down a strong foundation for the DNS industry in Africa. However, a lot still remains to be done, especially at the national level.

It is my hope that this fifth anniversary of the Africa DNS Forum will inspire all of our regional partners to continue in their efforts towards transforming the African DNS industry. For our part, ICANN promises to remain a commited partner throughout this journey.


    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."