[AfrICANN-discuss] Smart Infrastructure: Transform Africa 2013

Mawaki Chango kichango at gmail.com
Fri Nov 8 14:38:32 SAST 2013


As much as we would like the world of Internet to be ridden of any notion
of national boundaries, those boundaries are well with us, poor bodily
beings as well as small-and-medium size legal entities including internet
operators, and they constrain us at so many levels we don't even realize (I
for one would like to get rid of national borders, nationalities and
passports so that I can decide overnight to hop on a plane and show up
wherever in the world I want or need --for now, only a tiny portion of the
world population can do so thanks to... their nationality and their
national passport!)

Back to the point: We often hear that internet value is created at its
edges (or a variant of that.) The first policy document where I saw that
used as a central argument was in the US government's comment to the WGIG
report in 2005. I'll tend to agree with that provided that it applies the
whole value chain, including the supply segments. Unfortunately most people
just assume that it is only about contents and applications.

I think it would make a meaningful difference in terms of people's
understanding of what internet fully entails and the opportunities it
affords (and can potentially afford to anyone regardless of current
geographical location) not just when regulators make access affordable but
- if we reduce or suppress every instance of information asymmetry
regarding all aspects of the continuous making of the internet, i.e. what
it takes to make internet "happen."
- if we understand that for the internet economy to be impactful to the
maximum extent within an economy (which by all macro-economic measures
still is a notion that is structured on national basis), conditions must be
created to enable all levels of internet industry actors to emerge in every
country --regardless of their possibly modest scale.

Let me be clear. Nobody is saying that it should be mandatory that, for
instance, national registrars be set up in every country. Just that it
should be the goal of all actors involved in shaping this ecosystem, to
create or provide all the conditions (starting with eliminating information
asymmetries and building relevant capacity) to those actors to emerge once
they start seeing/understanding the opportunity.

That is a position I have been defending ever since I sat on the GNSO
Council in 2006 and during that early stage of the new gTLD policy
development process. The ingenuity and creativity of people is sooner or
later limited by what they already know or experience as possible. I think
we have the duty to open their outlook on the full range of possibilities
about the internet at all levels of the value chain. If big, multinational
corporations such as MTN, Orange or Vodafone can set up and effectively run
large communications infrastructures and make huge profits in Africa, this
can also be done for any level of internet operations and services
including by new players. It "only" takes information/ knowledge/
experience and funding, all of which can be found in any given African
country if we resolve to work deliberately toward that goal and to open up
all internet processes to unusual suspects (as opposed to a handful number
of players who have been long enough around ICANN to be anointed as
accredited registrars.)

In sum, we shouldn't be working with the assumption that no player could
emerge from the "national bottom" to become even a global player at some
point, or that becoming a global player has nothing to do with aspects and
status of national economy including potential for national internet
market, within which it all begins.



-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Mawaki Chango, PhD
Owner, DIGILEXIS Consulting
m.chango at digilexis.com
Mobile: +225 4448 7764
Skype: digilexis

On Fri, Nov 8, 2013 at 10:58 AM, Ben Fuller <abutiben at gmail.com> wrote:

> McTim,
> This is exactly the problem. You have to focus on the situation within
> national boundaries. I have been involved with post apartheid development
> in Nambia for well over 20 years. No matter what the area (SME development,
> livestock and agriculture, tourism, etc.) the need to build local and
> national supporting infrascructures is paramount. Without that focus you
> never get to where you can engage effectively with foreign businesses or
> any kind of supranational agency.
> The discussions in ICANN and on this list coalesce around the need for
> more ICANN Accredited registrars in Africa. Thats a nice goal, but only
> part of the story. What if most or all of these registrars are based in
> East or West Africa? How will people in Namibia access these registrars? If
> they have a credit card they can, but that's a small number of people in
> our economy. Namibia is a member of the Common Monetary Area which still
> has exchange controls making bank transfers outside the CMA very
> complicated. Writing a cheque in your local currency and sending through
> the post is not an option because banks in other countries often want
> cheques in USD, EUR, etc. While the elites of any society will have few
> problems getting to access to Internet services and infrastructures, what
> about the rest the people living in African societies? I am sure that this
> group makes up the vast majority of any population.
> The advantage of nationally based registrars is that they take care of
> these transactions for clients as well as providing the many different
> services that people new to the Internet require. They speak local
> languages, they provide service and support. Bob Ochieng started this
> thread with a post about "ubiquitous, secure and sustainable ICT
> infrastructure."  The panel was also about "smart infrastructure." Building
> infrastructure from the bottom up (to borrow a well known ICANN term) is
> smart. This process needs to occur in conjunction with the seemingly top
> down approach of creating of 25 (the number I have heard as a target) ICANN
> accredited registrars for Africa. (Which comes out to less than half a
> registrar per country.)
> Neither ICANN nor this list wants to get into the different ways in which
> businesses are created, regulated, taxed, etc in different countries;
> places like the World Bank, AfDB, GIZ, and others do a much better job.
> ICANN and people on this list can start thinking about how promote national
> registrars within what I take to be the ambit of ICANN and Africann -- DNS,
> stability and security. For example, the meeting referred to by Bob talked
> about security. How do we convince ccTLDs and African ISPs to adopt DNSSEC?
> There are other questions to look at.
> Ben
>> > On Nov 7, 2013, at 21:52, McTim <dogwallah at gmail.com> wrote:
>> >
>> >> On Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 1:49 PM, Ben Fuller <abutiben at gmail.com> wrote:
>> >> It seems no one is interested in the issue of building up national
>> registrars.
>> >
>> > I am all for building up African registrars, but I see no need to
>> > focus inside nation states boundaries.
>> >
>> > --
>> > Cheers,
>> >
>> > McTim
>> > "A name indicates what we seek. An address indicates where it is. A
>> > route indicates how we get there."  Jon Postel
>> > _______________________________________________
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> --
> **********************************************
> 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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