Africa’s participation in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the organisation responsible for coordinating the global internet’s systems of unique identifiers and for ensuring their stable and secure operation. Its main responsibility is to coordinate the allocation of three sets of unique identifiers (or critical internet resources) – domain names, internet protocol (IP) addresses and autonomous system numbers, and protocol port and parameter numbers – and to facilitate the coordination of the operation and evolution of the domain name system (DNS) root name server system.
Within ICANN’s multistakeholder structure, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) is tasked with providing advice to the ICANN Board on matters pertaining to public policy. Forty-four African countries have representation on the GAC (Figure 30). The representation is typically ensured by ministries of ICT/digital economy or regulatory authorities. The AUC, the AU Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS), and the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly also participate in GAC work as observers.
Figure 30. African countries with GAC membership (October 2022).
Besides governmental involvement in the GAC, there is also participation of other African stakeholders across other advisory committees and supporting organisations (Table 9). For instance, at the Country Code Names Supporting Organization (ccNSO) – which brings together managers of country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) to discuss issues of common interest and recommend policies for a limited set of ccTLD-related topics – there are 39 African countries1The countries whose ccTLD operators participate in ccNSO work are Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe. participating through their ccTLD operators, including 7 of the focus countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa.
The Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) is the body in charge of developing policies for generic top-level domains (e.g. .com, .org) (which are eventually submitted to the ICANN Board for approval). Within the GNSO there are multiple stakeholder groups and constituencies representing the interests of various commercial and non-commercial stakeholders (be they organisations or individuals). A look at the membership of these groups and constituencies shows that there is some involvement from actors from at least 30 African countries,2These are Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe. including Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa.
Groups based in 31 African countries3Groups based in the following countries participate in ICANN’s At-Large community: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe. – including Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and South Africa – are part of ICANN’s At-Large community, which fosters the participation of individual internet users in ICANN policy development activities. These groups are known as At-Large Structures and are associated with the African Regional At-Large Organization (AFRALO). In addition to these structures, AFRALO also includes individual members from ten countries.4These are Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Gabon, Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Togo, and Tunisia.
The region’s voice in the Address Supporting Organization (ASO), which develops recommendations on internet protocol address policies (e.g. operation, assignments, management of IP addresses) is represented through AFRINIC. AFRINIC membership spans 54 African countries.
Table 9. Involvement of actors in the eight focus countries in selected ICANN advisory committees and supporting organisations (October 2022).5The statistics for GNSO are based on information about membership collected from across GNSO groups and constituencies. The membership of one constituency – the Intellectual Property Constituency – is not included, as publicly available information on membership does not offer details about the members’ countries.