ICANN's Coalition to Help Build a Better Internet for Africa

ICANN’s Coalition to Help Build a Better Internet for Africa

An alliance of organizations committed to building robust and secure internet infrastructure in Africa has launched the Coalition for Digital Africa.

Led by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Coalition will drive innovation to build technical capacity and encourage entrepreneurship by enabling people to access the Internet using their own languages ​​and scripts. . While its official launch took place yesterday at the 17th Annual Internet Governance Forum, the Coalition has already begun its operations.

Africa has one of the fastest growing internet penetration rates in the world and is home to the youngest population on the planet, 70% of whom are under the age of 30, according to ICANN. Internet connectivity has grown from 1.2% in 2000 to 43% in 2021, thanks to a young, educated urban workforce that is digitally savvy.

“The Digital Africa Coalition provides an opportunity for new ways of cooperation and collaboration among diverse stakeholders,” said ICANN President and CEO Goran Marby. “Although the Coalition was initiated by ICANN, its success depends on working in synergy with other organizations – whether local, regional or international – that are united in their goal to improve the Internet infrastructure of Africa, to increase the rate of Internet access, to strengthen Internet security and to raise the level of Africa’s participation in the development of multi-stakeholder policies.

Managed root clusters manage traffic in Africa and improve cybersecurity

To make Africa’s Domain Name System (DNS) infrastructure more robust to accommodate rapid growth, the coalition announced the installation of an ICANN Managed Root Server (IMRS) cluster in Kenya in November. Another cluster is planned for a second site in Africa next year. These clusters make it possible to serve regional Internet requests within the region rather than depending on networks and servers in other parts of the world. IMRS clusters will also reduce the impact of potential cyberattacks in Africa.

“The launch of the Coalition brings us one step closer to strengthening the Internet infrastructure in Africa. The Coalition provides an important vehicle to enable a better protected DNS and more secure Internet infrastructure in Africa,” said John Omo, Secretary General of the African Telecommunications Union. .

The Coalition will begin by working to better adapt the Internet in Africa to enable digital inclusiveness and create opportunities to drive the growth of local content and businesses, ICANN says. Key to this effort is Universal Acceptance, or UA, which ensures that all valid domain names and email addresses, regardless of length or script, can be used by all compatible apps, devices, and systems. Internet.

The Coalition is working on a project led by the Association of African Universities to make email and other systems within higher education AU-ready, a critical step in ensuring an internet that is both useful and empowering. for everyone.

“This is an important and welcome initiative for Africa. Improving the technical capacity of higher education institutions across the continent is imperative for a digital Africa,” said Olusola Bandele Oyewole, Secretary General of the Association of African Universities. “We are excited to be part of this journey to give African internet users the opportunity to be part of a truly global, inclusive and multilingual internet.”

The Coalition for Digital Africa includes governments, regional and international organizations and the local internet community. Early Coalition partners also include the African Network Information Center, the AfRegistrar Association, the African Top Level Domain, the African Telecommunications Union, the Association of African Universities, the French Association for the naming the Internet in Cooperation, the International Telecommunication Union – Development Sector and the Network Startup Resource Center. .

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