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African governments fear ICT policy creation? A case made by dotAfrica

Africa in the recent years has become the focus of international business and tech firms looking to pitch and setup in Africa in order to be part of the beneficiaries of the African Market.

This past week, iWeek conference in conference in South Africa hosted delegates on internet business. Its reported that stakeholders at the Internet Service Providers’ Association think that

 “Development in the digital landscape is a fearsome experience to most African governments, posing the opportunity for business involvement and registrar incubation”

In term of policy that reflects an international status, Africa has been taken to lag behind and just mostly use the already ratified rules. This applies to almost any of the industries be it business, law agriculture, international relations and more relevantly internet technology. As we may recall, the December 2012 ITU conference ended in a state of uncertainty, while most countries knew what they wanted in the new draft of the international telecommunications regulations, Africa too had points to put across but we are reliably informed that there was not much understanding by the delegates of what the real African position would be.

It’s not a secret that most African delegates to these international meetings would rather latch to ideas forwarded by other nations that are considered more developed in certain areas. So when will Africa and especially governments have a say in international matters.

Is there fear as a asserted by Alice Munyua of Uniforum who thinks

“There is a little bit of fear about the policy frameworks and regulatory frameworks, but also at the same time protecting [the] public,” .

There are is particular project called the new gTLD program that is being facilitated by ICANN. Here ICANN requires that its Governmental Advisory Committee – GAC can assist is enabling governments understand the new generic top level domains.

ICANN GAC misled Africa
GAC especially in Africa has done a bad job. It is true that there is a huge disjoint in what African governments perceive the ICANN process to be, and I am not sure even if there are informed positions. I believe, if a random research would be done in the relevant ICT arms of the government on the ICANN process, the results would be shocking due to lack of proper informed positions.

Africa has a few yet common representatives who are known within the ICANN circles and am afraid the same people are misleading ICANN of Africa’s clarity and perception, so why question the existing fear?  A few people understand the processes of running continental projects, and one conspicuous project that has become a grand shame for African Technology politics is .africa.

Two organizations have been tussling over a geographic string .africa. The main issue is not that there is Uniforum and DotConnectAfrica in the race but that there has been a grand scheme by operatives who misrepresented the system to their benefits and what is worst is that ICANN officials blindly accepted it.  The .africa TLD has become big news because the few officials who claim to understand not only the ICANN process and the benefit of the string, but also know that no government institution on ICT is well versed with the ICANN process have gone ahead to cheat the system at the continental watchdog of the Africa Union and manipulated it to award themselves as one of the most lucrative continental projects.

Unfortunately amidst this entire melee, DotConnectAfrica despite being pinned down has not given up in attempting to rid the system and the project of impending gross manipulation that would lead to a grand fall of the .africa registry.

Neil Dundas speaking of the same project notes that

“It is a very complex, expensive process…you have to grow it from grass roots up”. .

Unfortunately DotConnectAfrica grew the project from the grass roots up, only for Uniforum led by Dundas to take it over in unclear circumstances.

“Reselling domain names across borders is an issue we need to face. Already we have the issue with banking. We need to think of ways about how to do it”

notes Pierre Dandjinou but it is also important to know that Africa which has Francophone, Anglophone and even Arabic speaking nations would have found it easy to understand the project in a wholesome manner when it was first launched 6 years ago by DotConnectAfrica, who even took the liberty to create a string version for the three languages under .africa, dot afriqiya and .afrique.

Its not a secret that the well planned delegation and commercialization of the project would have emerged quite successful had it not been poisoned by the involvement of the AUC and the Special interest groups who are attempting to hi-jack the TLD.

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September 14th, 2013



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