[Community-Discuss] Cotonou Meeting

Andrew Alston Andrew.Alston at liquidtelecom.com
Wed Jun 20 06:25:16 UTC 2018

Ok Ali,

Let me attempt this – and you and I, it’s rare that we disagree with each other, and you know that I have immense respect for you, but in this case, disagree with you I must.

Firstly – the micro-management of AFRINIC becomes necessary when AFRINIC refuses point blank to follow its own rules of engagement as defined by the bylaws.  Secondly – to turn a blind eye to the “small” issues is to let the organisation end up back where it was in 2014, teetering on the brink of total financial collapse, with no reserve, making sustained losses that could have ended the company.
Thirdly - Let us examine the core mission of AFRINIC and then let us score that:

  1.  "Be the leading force in growing the internet for Africa's sustainable development"

That simply isn’t happening – no R&D that is visible to the community or the members to speak of, a IRDB that myself, and others on this list, have consistently says has serious problems and needs rectification – with no indication of how this is going to be – potentially putting the continent at risk if RIPE proceeds with certain actions inside its own DB working group – A situation where members that do ALL their business on this continent asking why, after a year of attempting to get legitimate space they have none, yet in February 2018 an allocation is made that, within 2 months is being offered sale – and AFRINIC’s only response to the multitude of queries is “we’re investigating…” with no time frames given.  The denial of an application by one particular major content player that wanted to come onto this continent with a request that they provide proof of over 2 million domains they handle… Oh, and a statement by yet another major content player that AFRINIC and the situation it is in is “unsettling for business on the continent” – no – AFRINIC is not driving sustained development – and if you believe otherwise – please – tell me how they are

  1.  Community driven as a core value

This community asked for and was denied a vote of no confidence by the board, and using technicalities to do so.  This community has asked AFRINIC to explain the benefit members get out of the insane amount of travel (which btw, averages more than 6 trips per employee per year in 2017), and never had a proper answer.  This community has asked AFRINIC to explain how it plans to fix the *extremely* serious legal predicament it finds itself in, with the fact that it cannot get quorum to hold another AGMM and it cannot, by its own bylaws, elect directors to get that quorum – and have been ignored.  So please – tell me how we meet this objective

  1.  Operational excellence?  Really – If you really need me to elaborate on this – let me know – I’ll happily paste the pages and pages of what members who are attempting to get space out of AFRINIC for very legitimate business needs are saying on lists all over the continent.

  1.  Passion?  Where is this passion – What I see is that the members who are passionate about this organization and the good of the continent and ensuring that the organization is financially sustainable and well run by good corporate governance are told to shut up – go away – and not make waves – and not to sweat the small things.  We are closer to asking for apathy than we are for passion

  1.  Innovation & Creativity – please Ali – tell me where this is – what innovation has come from AFRINIC?  Where is this innovation – because if it’s there – I do not see it – and if I’m wrong – then I need to be shown the error I am making.

So – by my count so far – in my view – we are failing ENTIRELY on the vision – and 4 core values you listed.  Now let’s move on to the next points:

  1.  People management – Please – just go back and look at the last few months – I need not say anything more on this point
  2.  Plans & Processes? When I asked on this list if AFRINIC would adhere to the Mauritian code of corporate governance – I was told that it was “optional” for companies like AFRINIC (which is technically true).  When I have asked AFRINIC if they are willing to publish the minutes of the sub-board committees – they have openly refused.  The strategic plan as it stands – a strategic plan is a living document – look at when that document that was sent was last revised or updated.  Let’s do a tangible analysis not just on the plans – but on the delivery against those plans – and see where we are – I don’t think you’d like the results of such an analysis.
  3.  Budget Discipline and associated items – This is an interesting one – except – there is a problem – if your revenue is increasing at 10.7% and you are budgeting for opex increases in categories in excess of 20% and are budgeting against projected growth figures – you have an issue.  When you stand and tell the members – we wish to raise the fees by an effective 5% - while already making surplus – and while you are not explaining the benefit to those putting in money of how you are spending your money – no budget in the world covers for this.  A budget must be adhered to – but the members of a non-profit organization should also have some say in how that money is spent – particularly when they start to question if the money is being spent serving the company’s primary objective.  Myself and others – we are certainly questioning if that is the case.
  4.  Community confidence / trust – well – again – I don’t even need to comment on this – the ballot box in Dakar spoke for itself
  5.  Continuous community engagement and support?  This needs to happen – I 100% agree with you – however, it needs to be defined what it means – it does not mean giving away money to organisations that have NO accountability and that refuse to be audited for 10 years as an example.  It does not mean making the community wait months for answers to questions which directly affect this organization.  It does mean sticking to the clauses as defined in article 3 of the bylaws – something AFRINIC has singularly failed to do – in particular in terms of clause 3.4.vii of the bylaws.  Part of continuous community engagement is defined so well in 3.4.vii – that states that the board should disseminate among its members information on _ALL_ matters affecting the Company and its members.  And as many of my comments above this will show – that – has not happened and is not happening.
  6.  Effective operational processes and an agile organizational structure – Well, on this, I can only comment on what I see from outside – and I would argue that if this existed – the comments appearing on other lists around this continent about the constant struggle to get anything out of AFRINIC would not be there.  I would argue that if this existed – the incidents that lead to a full blown investigation followed by a refusal to publish the actual report – would not have come to fruition.

In my book – and for many many others that I speak to on a daily basis – AfriNIC fails on every single one of the above points.

So yes – I openly called AFRINIC an abject failure as it stands today – and I did so publicly – because – by any objective evaluation of the above points – we have failed in a core mission – we have failed in our core values – and we have failed on the critical success factors.  We have plowed millions into training across the continent – and while I realize that objectively measuring the success of training is pretty difficult – considering how much of that training has been focused on IPv6 deployment – and considering the V6 deployment rates across the continent – we have failed there as well.  (Please note – I do not blame the trainers here, I would say it’s probably more the fault of those who do not apply that training, but the reality remains – if you are pouring money into something with no tangible results, you are failing – badly)

So Ali – when you say do not focus on the small issues – From 2005 when I actively started engaging with AFRINIC – I have seen a consistent refusal to focus on the macro issues – a consistent refusal to focus on the micro issues – and a consistent attempt to hide behind technicalities and every other thing in the book to avoid accountability and responsibility.  So right now, EVERY issue is in focus – and I believe that the only way any organization can truly thrive, is to be willing to answer the questions and to take a long hard look at themselves, either through the questions their members ask or through external review – and be willing to face the hard realities when they are going so terribly wrong.

Again – I stand by my statement – that by any objective measure right now – AfriNIC has failed – and while it has the ability to turn itself around – the path it is on right now – celebrating the failures rather than staying home and fixing the significant problems – is no way to do that.  The path it is on right now – leads to annihilation.


From: Ali Hussein [mailto:ali at hussein.me.ke]
Sent: 20 June 2018 08:03
To: Janvier NGNOULAYE <jnoulaye at gmail.com>
Cc: Andrew Alston <Andrew.Alston at liquidtelecom.com>; General Discussions of AFRINIC <community-discuss at afrinic.net>; AFRINIC Board of Directors' List <board at afrinic.net>
Subject: Re: [Community-Discuss] Cotonou Meeting

Hi all

Been following these conversations for the last few days with interest and dismay. We have become fractioned that we query and deem unnecessary such important events. We probably need to go back to the core reason Afrinic was created. let me recount our Vision and Mission:-

"Be the leading force in growing the internet for Africa's sustainable development"

"To serve the African Community by providing professional and efficient management of Internet number technology usage and development, and promoting Internet self-governance."


  *   Community driven
  *   Operational excellence
  *   Passion
  *   Innovation & Creativity


  *   ​
People management (right people, competent, mindset, engaged, clear objectives, committed, etc)

  *   Technical Infrastructure's reliability and resilience
  *   Plans & Processes
  *   Funding:

     *   Financial Sustainability
     *   Infrastructure and space
     *   Budget discipline

  *   Community Trust/Confidence
  *   Continuous community engagement and support
  *   Effective Operational Processes and Agile Organisational structure

​Instead of being so pedantic and questioning every little thing the organization is doing I say let's go back to these core issues above. And let's ask ourselves:-

Despite all the challenges we are currently facing what have we achieved? And when answering this let's not just speak about the paying members. Afrinic is much more than paying members! Afrinic is about the very Internet Ecosystem in the co​ntinent. Let us be circumspect lest we kill the baby with the bath water.


Ali Hussein


AHK & Associates

Tel: +254 713 601113

Twitter: @AliHKassim

Skype: abu-jomo

LinkedIn: http://ke.linkedin.com/in/alihkassim<http://ke.linkedin.com/in/alihkassim>

13th Floor , Delta Towers, Oracle Wing,

Chiromo Road, Westlands,

Nairobi, Kenya.

Any information of a personal nature expressed in this email are purely mine and do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the organizations that I work with.

On Wed, Jun 20, 2018 at 1:50 AM, Janvier NGNOULAYE <jnoulaye at gmail.com<mailto:jnoulaye at gmail.com>> wrote:
Dear Andrew,
I wonder about your motives that seem inappropriate to me this last couple of months, in such that, with all respect due to you, I wanted to tell you to stop paying your $50k annual fee, and go rent your resources to another RIR.  Afrinic will not died.
Please tell here if your statements here and questions engage yourself or your company? Because it is inacceptable that a single member micromanages Afrinic, this is a lack of respect to the Afrinic body.
I'm really shocked and got boring with your mails. The CEO should have never replied to it. I am not the one who have to ask you to wait for the  financial annual report or the auditor's report at the AGMM to ask these multiple questions.
I think you're crossed over the line at this point, do you forget the principle that the CEO reports to the Board, and that the Board reports to members at an AGMM? Where do you come from with the questions on the figures in the mid-year budget and particulary on sponsoring of the Cotonou event?
I also see that you're giving yourself too much liberty, to the point of asking ICANN if it is sponsoring the Cotonou event, this is again a lack of respect to the ICANN body.
For the sake of the African Internet community, for the sake of the Afrinic members, and this is my recommandation to the Board:  I am requesting  the Board to put you under discipline because of these attitudes that tarnish the image of Afrinic and its members.

Warm regards,
Afrinic Member
Former Afrinic Board member
Yaounde - Cameroon

Le mar. 19 juin 2018 à 22:09, Andrew Alston <Andrew.Alston at liquidtelecom.com<mailto:Andrew.Alston at liquidtelecom.com>> a écrit :
Just wanted to add – did you think I would be embarrassed by you leaking that? Or attempt to deny it?

Dude – come on – get real – MANY people on that list that are on that group – if I was ashamed of that post – well – I wouldn’t have posted it where half this list could already see it – as plain as day.

I do find it very interesting that you choose to take stuff off a group that has strict rules about external posts – and post it here for your own purposes.

☺ And I can guess who gave it to you – because its not hard to correlate members of this list to members of that group – but *shrug* who cares – its as good as a public post – I don’t say things that I won’t stand by – I stand by that one


From: William Ametozion <wametozion at gmail.com<mailto:wametozion at gmail.com>>
Date: Tuesday, 19 June 2018 at 23:19
To: Andrew Alston <Andrew.Alston at liquidtelecom.com<mailto:Andrew.Alston at liquidtelecom.com>>
Cc: Alan Barrett <alan.barrett at afrinic.net<mailto:alan.barrett at afrinic.net>>, "community-discuss at afrinic.net<mailto:community-discuss at afrinic.net>" <community-discuss at afrinic.net<mailto:community-discuss at afrinic.net>>, AFRINIC Board of Directors' List <board at afrinic.net<mailto:board at afrinic.net>>
Subject: Re: [Community-Discuss] Cotonou Meeting

Dear Community,

I came across a screenshot of a post (attached) by a member of AFRINIC Community on ICANN Facebook page and would like to share with you.

Yes we may not have attained all our goals but the truth must be told that we have made progress .

No matter how bitter one is, history of Internet in Africa cannot be changed based on someone’s whims and caprices. Indeed pioneers deserve commendation and not unbridled hatred as shown. Africa deserves encouragement rather than this reckless attempt to destroy AFRINIC.

I cannot wait to be in Cotonou. Let us all including friends of Africa join in the Celebration of IG 1998 - 2018 on July 6, 2018.

Thank you.

On 19 June 2018 at 13:21, Andrew Alston <Andrew.Alston at liquidtelecom.com<mailto:Andrew.Alston at liquidtelecom.com>> wrote:

Does this include the cocktail sponsorship – if it does – can we calculate as follows based on previous trips to work out the approximate cost of attendance:

Average cost per person in flights (based on previous financials) - $2049.50
Sponsorship $3000
Accommodation while there since it’s a 2 day event - $500 odd dollars per person (conservatively)
5 total people

Cost to the membership for this – roughly $16k?

I just wanna be sure I have the numbers straight here


From: Alan Barrett [mailto:alan.barrett at afrinic.net<mailto:alan.barrett at afrinic.net>]
Sent: 19 June 2018 16:15
To: community-discuss at afrinic.net<mailto:community-discuss at afrinic.net>
Cc: AFRINIC Board of Directors' List <board at afrinic.net<mailto:board at afrinic.net>>
Subject: Re: [Community-Discuss] Cotonou Meeting

> On 15 Jun 2018, at 16:50, Andrew Alston <Andrew.Alston at liquidtelecom.com<mailto:Andrew.Alston at liquidtelecom.com>> wrote:
> So AfriNIC Board / Management – can you please disclose EXACTLY what was sponsored for this event – how much – who is going – and what are the members paying towards an event that is not even listed on your events calendar? I’d like to know how much of our money is being squandered.

AFRINIC is not organising the event in Cotonou on 6 July 2018, but was invited to participate. AFRINIC is contributing $3000 in sponsorship, and will cover the costs for attendance by the CEO, one or two other staff, and the Chair and Vice Chair of the Board.


Alan Barrett

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