Moving With the Time

Fadi Chehadé
Fadi Chehadé

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers plans to create six zonal offices in Africa to integrate the continent into global internet governance

|  By Maureen Chigbo  |  Mar. 25, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

THE quest for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, to ensure a stable, secure and unified global Internet has been extended to Africa. ICANN is now moving ahead immediately with plans to have six new representatives on the African continent. “ICANN used to say if you want to participate in internet governance come to ICANN. We’ve changed that, now ICANN is coming to the stakeholders. We’re not waiting for you to come. We’re coming to you,” said Fadi Chehadé, president of ICANN.

“We will have ICANN staff, at least one, in each of the six regions of Africa – North, South, East, West, Central and the Indian Ocean. I want African on-ramps into the ICANN structures. I will give you the on-ramps, but you need to climb them,” Chehadé said at the Africa multi-stakeholder Internet governance meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The two-day meeting, which drew Internet leaders from across the continent, has ended.

The ICANN leader also said he would like to see a dramatic increase in the number of accredited Domain Name Registrars on the African continent.  Currently, there are only five accredited registrars in Africa among more than one thousand worldwide, but Chehadé said he wants to see that number increase five-fold in less than two years. “This is about us moving the needle forward. Africa will not wait,” said Chehadé.

The meeting was attended by about two hundred people, including ministers and other government representatives, leaders from the African business community, the civil society and from ICANN structures in Africa among others.

During the event, the implementation of an African strategy for better engagement in Africa was discussed in detail. This strategy was prepared by representatives from the African community last summer and announced during the ICANN meeting in Toronto last October.  Chehadé reiterated ICANN’s commitment to help implement the three-year strategy in coordination with global and regional partners in Africa.

ICANN’s mission is to ensure a stable, secure and unified global internet. To reach another person on the internet you have to type an address into your computer – a name or a number. That address has to be unique so that computers know where to find each other. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers across the world. “Without that coordination, we wouldn’t have one global Internet,” said Chehade.

ICANN was formed in 1998 as a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world dedicated to keeping the internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops a policy on the internet’s unique identifiers. ICANN doesn’t control content on the internet. It cannot stop spam and it doesn’t deal with access to the internet. But through its coordination role of the internet’s naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the internet.

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