ICANN Coalition to Help Build a Better Internet for Africa

An alliance of organizations committed to building a strong 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 foster innovation to build technical capabilities and encourage entrepreneurship by enabling people to access the internet using their own languages ​​and scripts. While its official launch took place yesterday at 17th Annual Internet Governance Forumthe Coalition has already started 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 percent of whom are under the age of 30, says ICANN. Internet connectivity has grown from 1.2% in 2000 to 43% in 2021, driven by a young, educated urban workforce who are digitally savvy.

“The Coalition for Digital Africa offers an opportunity for new ways for diverse stakeholders to cooperate and collaborate,” says ICANN President and CEO Goran Marby. “Although the Coalition was initiated by ICANN, its success depends on working synergistically with other organizations – be they local, regional or international – who are united in their goal to improve Africa’s Internet infrastructure, increase the rate of access to the Internet, strengthen Internet security and increase the level of African participation in the development of multilateral policies”.

Managed root clusters manage traffic in Africa and improve cybersecurity

To make Africa’s Domain Name System (DNS) infrastructure more robust to cope with rapid growth, the Coalition announced the deployment of an ICANN Managed Root Server (IMRS) cluster in Kenya in November. Another cluster is planned for a second location in Africa next year. These clusters allow regional Internet queries to be answered 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 cyber attacks 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 better secured DNS and more secure Internet infrastructure in Africa,” he says John OmoSecretary General, African Telecommunication Union.

The Coalition will begin by working to better adapt the internet in Africa to enable digital inclusiveness and create opportunities to spur 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 enabled applications, devices and systems. to the 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, an essential step in ensuring an internet that is both useful and empowering for all .

“This is an important and welcome initiative for Africa. Improving the technical capacity of higher education institutions across the continent is crucial for a digital Africa,” he says Olusola Bandele Oyewole, Secretary General of the Association of African Universities. “We are delighted to be part of this journey to offer 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. Inaugural Coalition partners also include the Africa Network Information Center, AfRegistar Association, Africa top-level domain, African Telecommunication Union, African University Association, French association for the naming of the Internet in cooperation, Development Sector of the International Telecommunication UnionAnd Network startup resource center.