" ITREALMS: Experts task ICT ministers on DotAfrica domain names

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Experts task ICT ministers on DotAfrica domain names

AS the third extraordinary meeting of African Union (AU) Conference of Ministers in charge of Communication and Information Technologies (CITMC) ended at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, weekend, experts in the ICT sector are now challenging the body of ministers to mandate the AU to implement the Dot Africa on behalf of member states.

DotAfrica is a specific Internet namespace for Africa, when applied in the next round of new Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) which the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) would be launched in the nearest future.

Also, ITRealms Online gathered that the Ministers were expected go about the implementation in cooperation and partnerships with relevant stakeholders and institutions, including the preparation and the submission of the DotAfrica application to ICANN.

The two-day ministerial session, which took place from Friday, 6 to Saturday, 7 August this year, came on the heels of the end of experts’ session presentation to the CITMC-3 which commenced August 3, in Abuja.

This application is billed to reaffirm the position of the extraordinary session of CITMC held in Johannesburg in 2009, which acknowledged the benefits of the Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) and work together to promote the use of Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) as they are critical national resources while ensuring that the technical and administrative operations meet the international standards to foster trust and use of African domain names in order to bring financial, economic and socio-cultural benefits to continent.

Africa currently has a population of one billion, with 86 million as Internet users, even as the penetration rate is said to be at 8.7 per cent.

This has been described as good compared to the world average of 26.9 per cent.
Experts further noted that with the introduction of DotAfrica, it would create an attractive regional home for the Pan-African Internet community; as the first sponsored registry to be operating from Africa and therefore serving the specific needs of its communities.

Additionally, it would echo the on-going operation and successes of other sister community gTLDs such as DotEu (DotEuropa) and DotAsia which have created a new Internet identity for their users and businesses who seek more regional presence without being confined within the limits of one country.

DotAfrica, experts elucidated, would contribute to the development of Internet on the African continent and proposes to re-invest back proceeds into the social and technological advancement initiatives within the community.

A revenue allocation structure, they hinted, would be adopted by the DotAfrica registry to guarantee that a portion of revenues be directly re-invested into the community through a grant programme.

DotAfrica will be adding value to the namespace as a recognizable phrase which focuses on the Africa identity as well as likely to capture the essence of the community served, maintaining that with DotAfrica spanning over a large portion of region, it would providing registrants with accrued possibilities for establishing their Internet presence.

ITRealms Online recalled that in 2007, the board for the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) council reported on policy development process on the introduction of new Top-Level Domains (TLDs), which came in two parts.

Part A, ITRealms Online notes, include the requirements for a board report in addition to the GNSO council’s final report comprising their substantive discussion of the principles, policy recommendations and implementation guidelines.

While part B of the final report would contain a range of supplementary materials that have been used by the committee during the course of the policy development process, most notably detailed constituency statements, expert papers and other reference materials.

The process for the introduction of new gTLDs, the council said, is central to fostering choice and competition in domain registration services, and as such is significant to the promotion of ICANN’s core values.

Equally, it was learnt that the evolution of the namespace toward enhanced diversity of services and service providers must be planned and managed effectively to ensure that the security, stability, reliability and global interoperability of the Internet is maintained.

In addition, the proposed policy would guide the introduction of new gTLDs to be created by the GNSO over a period of two preceding years through its bottom-up, multi-stakeholder policy development process.

Importantly, GNSO had received assistance from ICANN staff to help ensure that their final recommendations and guidelines are implementable, even as the questions that have been addressed by the GNSO in the development of new gTLD policy are complex and involve technical, economic, operational, legal, public policy, and other considerations; the intended result is a straightforward process that awards new gTLDs if they satisfy the criteria and no objections are sustained.

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