[AfrICANN-discuss] Declaration of the joint meeting of African community (Beijing)

Ben Fuller abutiben at gmail.com
Wed Apr 3 18:38:45 SAST 2013


Here are some comments:

The first three bullets are meaningless. They might be appropriate  in a
communiqué written by diplomats, but not among IT professionals.

The fourth bullet needs some correction:

In the first sentence (which is egregiously run-on) there is no evidence
that the previous three points will in any way "enable Africa to integrate
into the ICANN process." Usually that integration comes about through hard
work and active participation. Also, can someone on the task force please
Google "Africa is not a country"? The state of development, economic
integration, education, language culture and commerce is vastly different
across the fifty odd countries that make up Africa. This diversity needs to
be reflected in our planning.

As a follow on, in the second part of the first sentence, the notion that
the development fund will somehow allow the continent to "enter the
Internet domain industry" is written by someone who missed the boat a long
time ago. The Internet domain industry in different parts of Africa goes
back 20 or so years. Again there is a lot of diversity in terms of local
and national Internet development. There are a lot of skilled and talented
people on the continent who can serve as partners, teachers, and role
models for places where Internet penetration is not widespread.
Identification of these local resources should take place. The we can plan
on how Africa to Africa skills can be used to create appropriate

Lets look at some of the sub bullets:

Sub Bullet 1:Financial and technical support for African registrars.
Technical support yes, financial assistance only under strict conditions.
There are dozens of enterprises in the developing world (I've worked in
development for much of the past 20 years) that started with easy capital
and failed once that first injection of funds ran out. Instead, there needs
to be an effort to identify and assist existing Internet/web hosting/domain
name entrepreneurs in different countries to better understand and maximise
their markets. As one or a few in any given economy begin to grow, then the
"fund" can step in with higher levels of assistance and limited financial
help. A key component of sustainability is sweat equity. You want to
identify people willing to work until 10 or 11 at night and come back to
work at 7 the next morning. These people build businesses. These people
will build the Internet in Africa. Bring in a lot of up front money and the
CEO will drive home at 4:15 in the afternoon to get his or her Mercedes

Sub Bullet 2: Training on the new gTLD programme. Doesn't ICANN  already
provide support? And, as we have seen from the well-documented follies of
certain gTLD applications, reading the directions helps.

Sub Bullet 3: Can any one tell us in 25 words or less what is the role of
the domain name industry in the digital economy? Is it the same across all
economies or does it vary? Is there a need for capacity development? Who
are the beneficiaries of this effort? What are the outcomes we would like
to achieve? Capacity development by itself is a very wooly concept. We need
to become very specific to take this forward.

Sub Bullet 4: Why?  ICANN already does a lot to make the multi-stakeholder
model available. I have followed ICANN proceedings from some fairly remote
areas on my cell phone. There is a point about development that we need to
keep in mind -- appropriateness. At a local level I here in Namibia would
much rather see training courses on nutrition, HIV and Wellness care,
animal husbandry, child care, literacy, etc. Internet governance issues
might be better discussed  in another sector.

Sub Bullet 5: Again, give those interested in ICANN activities the web
pages for the web casts of the various meetings. Creating public fora for
ICANN activities does not really need much in terms of funding. The
Africann list is a good example. The real question is how many people in
any country -- developed or developing -- are waiting breathlessly to hear
the "Royal Readings?" (And other ICANN related issues.)  Or, are they more
interested in the content of the Internet as it affects their lives? If its
the latter, then understanding the local issues and the legal and social
mechanisms used to address these issues will be a much more fruitful

Finally, to whom is this statement addressed? What about the stakeholders?
Who are they? How does the private sector (at international and national
levels) become involved? Civil society? Governments? International
agencies? The general public?  Each of these groups needs a reason to get
involved. Some thought needs to go into that process.



Dr. Ben Fuller
abutiben at gmail.com
ben at fuller.na                http://www.fuller.na
blog: http://www.fuller.na/  skype: drbenfuller
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