Sophia Bekele: A lone voice crying in the African wilderness and fighting for the delegation of the .africa (pronounced ‘DotAfrica’) new generic Top-Level Domain.
Here are some of the highlights of Ms. Bekele from the coverage by theReporter
She has been on various forums discussing and presenting on the DNS Industry and its benefits to Africa under the Multi-Stakeholder Internet Governance (MIG) Framework. She has been very active in the Internet Domain Name Service (DNS) Industry since 2005, when she was first elected as the first African to serve on the gNSO Policy Advisory Council of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN.) The ICANN generic Names Supporting Organization undertakes policy advisory and policy development processes for Internet generic names. It was this experience that made her become fully enmeshed in the work of Global Internet Governance and multi-stakeholder advocacy that led her to where she is now: leading a new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) initiative as one of the applicants contending for the .africa generic Top-Level Domain
She founded the DotConnectAfrica Trust (DCA Trust) and the associated DCA Registry Services Ltd. to apply to ICANN for the mandate to administer DotAfrica (.africa) – a new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD). DCA Trust is well known for its successful six year Yes2dotAfrica global awareness campaign that she started during her term at ICANN when she initiated the (.africa) project.
On her .africa journey, she believes that a lot of progress has been registered during the past six years, especially managing a global promotional campaign to raise awareness about .africa and new gTLDs and the work of ICANN in general; and to also explain to people and different organizations how Africa and Africans would benefit from the introduction of the new gTLD.
Sophia said that she was not against the AU as such, but was fighting special interests who she thinks were actually manipulating the AU to act illegally outside the ICANN program simply for the benefit of these special interest groups who want to takeover .africa for themselves. She also cited how a ‘shadowy group’ suddenly emerged from nowhere and tried to use .africa to foster an illegal Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) scam out of South Africa, which she was also forced to campaign against. Sophia sees the defeat of that potential BEE scam and the illegitimate partnership underlying it as one important success that DCA Trust achieved.
She believes that the greatest challenge for her really is how to ensure that the process has the necessary transparency and accountability mechanisms, and has even appealed to the United States Congress in Washington D.C. to appoint a congressional Ombudsman that will look into any irregularities and any allegations of illegality regarding the implementation of the new gTLD programme.
Sophia believes in mentorship, and advises young girls and women to get educated, no matter how long it takes, because education is an entry point for opportunity. “Once you are educated, work hard, and always strive to do better, and be persistent in following your dreams,” she added.
Follow more on this her story here