Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ICANN tasks Nigeria on Internet governance

Internationally organized, non-profit company, responsible for the global coordination of the Internet’s system of unique identifiers like domain names such as .org, .museum and country codes like .ng, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), has tasked Nigeria on ensuring that Africa take its place in the proposed global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to be hosted in Cairo, first quarter of 2009.

Champion Infotel recalls that Nigeria was in May this year at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) forum in Cairo, Egypt elected to chair the continental Conference of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ministers under the leadership of Mr. John Odey.

Also, the Government of Egypt offered to host the 2009 IGF meeting.

Speaking exclusively to Champion Infotel on the forthcoming Internet Governance Forum scheduled to hold in Cairo, the African regional manager at ICANN, Ms Anne Rachel Inne, said that it is vital that Nigeria energise African participation at the forum.

According to her, little or no action has been seen since Nigeria took over the mantle of leadership of the African Conference of ICT Ministers and would like to see more action especially in preparation to the Cairo meeting, which Africa is hosting.

It is lamentable that little action is coming from Africa and it would not be an exciting future to realize that the continent did not contribute to the Internationalization of ICANN, which is touted to be top on the Cairo agenda.

She pointed out that on the continent, “our countries are at different levels right now of development the country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD),” but her main concern is that most of these ccTLDs are not working the way they are supposed to be working.

“Most of them are managed by entities that either do not have the means, sustainability or simply do not have the human and technical capacity to get them to the point where they need to be,” she decried.

Conference of ICT Ministers in Africa, she said, began as a good omen two years ago with Egypt holding the first chair of the committee to be rotated every two years and Nigeria as the incumbent chairperson, it is relevant to take the bull by the horn to ensure that Africa’s voices are heard not only at the Hyderabad session but also at the 2009 session in Cairo.

“Nigeria as the incumbent chairperson of the Conference of ICT Ministers in Africa is supposed to be organizing preparatory meetings on the Internet Governance Forum which would be held in Africa- Cairo next year,” she charged.

The essence of the preparatory meeting is to help Africa harmonise its views, because, “Different people are thinking different things about IGF and we are ready to give insight into what ICANN is doing,” Inne said.

She expects Africa to be fully on ground with the developments in ICANN and raise salient issues concerning the continent.

“And I want Africa to be part of it all, especially concerning the internationalization of ICANN,” she said.

Stressing that her concerns is on the internationalization of ICANN, “because I want Africa to be part of the processes and I don’t want the region to say later that they were left out or did not know what happened or even that they did it again without African input,” she warned.

Inne advised that by taking charge of the situation Nigeria would make sure that certain issues or process that do not favour Africa are taking out of the way rather than lamenting later: “we didn’t really know what was happening.”

To this effect, she noted that in several other forums, ICANN in the region has been briefing ministers and secretary generals and regulatory agencies as to update them.
Recently, she said, there was a meeting in Senegal with AfriNIC, ISOC, AfriSPA and regulatory authority in Senegal about Internet Governance in general.

In a related development, all is now set for the Hyderabad meeting of ICANN in India, which would take place at the Hyderabad International Conference Center (HICC) and arrangements are in top gear as ICANN anticipates a successful meeting.

The Under-Secretary-General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Mr. Sha Zukang, assured that it would be a fulfilling one.

A letter of invitation to the third meeting of the Internet Governance Forum, signed by Zukang and made available to Champion Infotel showed that the meeting would be open to all World Summit on the information Society (WSIS) accredited entities, as well as other institutions and persons with proven expertise and experience in matters related to Internet governance.

He pointed out that following broad-based consultations through the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), the proposed agenda for the Third Meeting of the IGF would include the reaching of the next billion Internet users; promoting cyber-security and trust; managing critical Internet resources; taking stock and the way forward; and emerging issues - the Internet of tomorrow.

“The overall theme of the meeting will be ‘internet for all,’" he said.

Zukang also said that this theme complements that of the 2008 World Telecommunications and Information Society Day, which was ‘connecting people with disabilities’.

“The theme underscores the importance of ensuring that we include the world’s 650 million people with disabilities as we move towards giving internet access to the next billion people,” he said.

Zukang equally expressed his gratitude to the Government of India for accepting to host the next meeting of the internet Governance Forum (IGF).

“Our host this year provides us with a practical example of how tremendous economic growth can be achieved through harnessing the tools which the Internet has placed at our disposal. We will see first hand in the host city of Hyderabad, how India’s development through the application of Information and Communication Technology (lCT) has been truly astounding," he said.

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