The meeting was attended by many delegates from East Africa sub-region and addressed by Kenya’s permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication Dr Bitange Ndemo who addressed issues concerning Internet connectivity within the East Africa region as well as the dire need for development of relevant internet content that is specific for Africa, noting that this was the only way Africa would be able to redirect the online traffic to Africa as opposed to the current situation where almost 70 per cent of internet content accessed is external.
The concept of relevant African content was strongly supported by the DotConnectAfrica (DCA) delegation which was roundly appreciated by the East Africa IGF delegates for being the organization that has really put Africa on the Map both in the issues concerning the “.africa” top level domain that it has campaigned well for over six years as well as the constant and incessant education of the African netizentry through its press releases and industry updates.
It may be recalled that DotAfrica as a project idea was largely abandoned at ICANN for nearly five years before DCA re-started the project with renewed impetus and momentum, and re-introduced it to the African inter-governmental organizations such as the AU and UNECA for their support, to ensure that Africa does not lose this important generic top-level domain (gTLD).
The campaign for the “.africa” domain today remains the re-energized effort commenced by DCA which was underpinned by a strong communications strategy to sensitize various African and global publics about the initiative. Many people always look forward to DCA’s important commentaries and Op-Ed pieces that are highly relevant to global Internet governance.
On matters pertaining to the “.africa” domain, Gideon Rop, the DCA representative said that DCA had “an opportunity to clarify and defend its position as a strong and compelling applicant for the DotAfrica (.africa) top level domain.”
“No organization was chosen front-runner since ICANN is yet to evaluate all complete applications that have been submitted by applicants. The incorrect and misleading reports that the South Africa-based UniForum Group, have firmly secured the dotAfrica gTLD are therefore incorrect and misleading,” said Rop.
Mr Rop dismissed such wrong reports as an exercise in mass media manipulation with a view to misinforming the public, which is quite unethical.
DCA also sought to emphasize that the geographic string name applied for was indeed “.africa” gTLD as clarified in its post reveal Press release contrary to the unfounded allegations that DCA had instead applied for “.dotafrica”
DotConnectAfrica remains a strong contender for the “.africa” string name and actually stands the best chance of being awarded the mandate to operate the gTLD registry since it has adhered to, and respected all the guidelines of the new gTLD programme, in addition to accepting ICANN’s oversight of the entire process, unlike UniForum which might be penalized for wrongly attributing the rights of DotAfrica gTLD to the AU instead of ICANN in direct contravention of the new gTLD programme guidelines.
Even though the EAIGF was not well attended, the event provided a good opportunity for the participants to discuss key issues that included Africa’s position on the ITR’s and resolutions submitted to the ITU in order to weigh behind changes that need to be made on the resolutions. Efforts were also made to see how Africa’s position could be well articulated given that Africa is becoming a key player and stakeholder in global telecommunications, with Rwanda emerging with a strong position on the issue.
Among other key agenda topics was Cyber-Security which is becoming an important and crucial issue within the East African Community (EAC). Given that CyberCrime is now on the increase, several countries have taken preliminary steps to curb this development thus forming CIRTs (Cyber Incidence and Emergency Response Teams).
Issues of Broadband connectivity were also taken as important in enabling data and content development by aiming to reduce the call termination rates by improving international connectivity via the Fiber optic trunk that would serve all the countries across the East African sub-region.
Greater youth involvement was recognized as a key development being that the first ever Rwandan IGF was held in the native language with the aim of including the rural community in the discussions. The youth representatives had asked pertinent questions regarding how the youth in the rural areas could properly contribute and brought into the mainstream of Internet development.