[Community-Discuss] "Fighting Internet Shutdown" - Any Role for AFRINIC?

Andrew Alston Andrew.Alston at liquidtelecom.com
Fri Apr 14 21:39:05 UTC 2017

Now, that’s an interesting question, and personally – speaking in my own capacity – I would have no objection to it.

But it raises a question – and its one I’ve been debating at length online with multiple people.

AfriNIC – completely neutral technical body
AfriNIC – political organisation with a technical function
AfriNIC – A hybrid of both of the above?

Because that impacts how we view things – and it impacts the role that the organisation should be playing.

Much of the debate about the recent anti-shutdown proposal actually goes to these fundamental questions as well – what is the role of an RIR – or other technical organisation in the more political aspects of the Internet – and what is the role of the RIR in taking stances on things like the abuse of rights and other such issues.

It’s a fascinating and complex issue and I think it’s one well worth debating – and the outcome of said debate would have heavy influence on what was proposed below.

So – for the sake of debate –

On one hand – if we claim to be a purely technical organisation – do we have a moral and ethical responsibility to get involved at all – or is our responsibility to get involved purely based on what is in the best interests of our members (since internet shutdowns hurt the members of AfriNIC – it could be argued that taking stance and fighting against such is actually necessary for the protection of the members and hence the protection of the organisation).

On the other hand – are we already an organisation with heavy political leanings and hence should accept that and embrace the role which we may have inadvertently created for ourselves.

To analyse this – let us look at some history

Prior to AfriNIC – space was gained by AfriNIC organisations from elsewhere – it was a working system – but politics dictated that Africa should have its own registry – and before anyone gets upset – I believe that’s a good thing – and I strongly stand by the fact that Africa DID need its own registry – but not for technical reasons – it *was* a political move.
Then if we look at the RIR’s role in the transition recently – those roles were again not the roles of technical bodies – they were political in nature – albeit politics directly related to internet resources.
If we look at how AfriNIC appoints its board – it is a political process – elections are held – lobbying is done – and we cannot deny the politics involved in that
If we look at how process is formed – again – to find consensus – lobbying is done – negotiations are had – and as has been pointed out on the floor during open microphone – politics and divides come into play even in that process – when people stop looking at the process and start looking at the people and the authors – which is sad – but it is a reality.

So – if the above points DO indicate that we have a political role – then yes – we need to embrace that role and the lobbying and the stances that accompany it – but in doing so – we need to acknowledge what we are embracing.

Personally – I lean towards the fact that in many ways – RIR’s DO have a political function – as much as we attempt to stay neutral – and that growth dictates that we embrace all that we are and that we accept all sides of our nature and the responsibilities that come with those aspects.  But it is a debate I would LOVE to hear more input on – what is the view of the community – of the members.  AfriNIC has been around for more than a decade now – I believe we are ready to look deeply and introspectively and start to ask as a community – what are ALL the aspects of this organisation and how do we deal with all the aspects of what we have become?

Looking forward to hearing the thoughts and opinions of all



From: Dewole Ajao [mailto:dewole at forum.org.ng]
Sent: 15 April 2017 00:11
To: Chevalier du Borg <virtual.borg at gmail.com>
Cc: General discussion of AFRINIC <community-discuss at afrinic.net>
Subject: Re: [Community-Discuss] "Fighting Internet Shutdown" - Any Role for AFRINIC?

Give this Borg a pint on me!

The AFRINIC board (whose members are domiciled in different parts of the continent) is already strategically positioned to drive some of the hand-holding and lobbying that is needed.

Can we update the Terms of Reference for board members to reflect same and measure impact on a fairly regular basis? Just to make sure it is acted on.

Dewole 🤠 (wearing no hats at all)

Sent from a mobile device. Please excuse typos and autocorrect strangeness.

On 14 Apr 2017, at 6:15 PM, Chevalier du Borg <virtual.borg at gmail.com<mailto:virtual.borg at gmail.com>> wrote:

2017-04-13 13:21 GMT+04:00 Seun Ojedeji <seun.ojedeji at gmail.com<mailto:seun.ojedeji at gmail.com>>:
 I wonder how AFRINIC can futher leverage on this to drive down the point about why government needs to stop considering a shutdown of internet or certain service as an option.

You think this logic will make sense to the brain of a dictator?  - not sure, unless there is legal system in place to stop that. Therefore AfriNIC may consider a longtime plan to make sure right laws exist in each country to prohibit shutdown. Yes, it will take long time and lot of

-- capacity building
-- lobbying (more work for board)
-- hand-holding like writing draft bills or policy paper for lawmakers.
-- have many regular conferences in Africa about this shutdowns

One other thing that comes to mind is whether AFRINIC can be pro-active instead of re-active i.e they are made aware of the planned act and issue strong statement against it hoping that it will get to the ears of relevant authorities and get them to reconsider. This may also be effective if the relationship between AFRINIC and the AU (and regional bodies like ECOWAS, EAC, COMESA etc) is strengthened as that can serve as a channel of communication to the respective governments.

These body are key, including other like Mo Ibrahim Foundation. They know the politique better than AfriNIC can. What AfriNIC can do better than all of them is provide fact/measure/data to back up shutdowns, then work with organisation like UNECA or World Bank to quantitate cost of these shutdown.

This must be War, not battle and let see board show some leadership here that is strategic. AfriNIC cannot just be like IBM that sell computers to Hitler and claim "we are not getting involve in politics"

Borg le Chevalier
"Common sense is what tells us the world is flat"
Community-Discuss mailing list
Community-Discuss at afrinic.net<mailto:Community-Discuss at afrinic.net>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.afrinic.net/pipermail/community-discuss/attachments/20170414/5a15a038/attachment.html>

More information about the Community-Discuss mailing list