During the ICANN Durban 46 Conference, the organizers of the African strategies that is a product of a June 2012 meeting involving Steve Crocker, Chairman of ICANN’s Board of Directors,ICANN’s CEO-Designate Fadi Chehadé and its Interim CEO Akram Atallah with select African community members at ICANN’s 44th Public Meeting, in Prague, Czech Republic.
The goal of the strategy was to develop a framework for ICANN’s Africa strategy. Part of the African strategy was The Africa DNS Industry Award which could have been anticipated in the future, as the ICANN Africa Strategy is new on its own. Therefore for a new initiative to launch an award was already seen as premature by many observers in the industry. The initial awardees were unveiled in Durban during the ICANN conference, the community has already faulted the DNS awards as premature as the the African DNS industry which comprises mostly of ccTLDs is not yet come of age. Africa also submitted 17 new gTLD applications in the ICANN new gTLD application round, which was seen as minimal.
There are 54 ccTLD registries operating name spaces of African countries and new gTLD registry applications to ICANN from African companies. There are additionally 5 ICANN accredited Registrars operating in Africa and the growth of DNS business in Africa is anticipated ICANN CEO had promised to work to increase the number of African ICANN accredited registrars to 25.
According to the African ICANN strategy website, “the award committee is made up of 7 professionals with knowledge in the registry registrar industry. Two members of the committee are appointed by ICANN Africa while the other 3 are appointed by ISOC, AfTLD, AfRegistrar communities, one from GAC Africa and one from the Global DNS industry. Members of the award committee may not be nominated for these awards during their term”. Its not known however how the names of the interim committee was constituted but one thing that is obvious is that it’s made up of individuals who are mostly friends and are running the show in the African Internet stage.
The initial awards were be given at the DNS Forum 2013 in Durban ICANN meeting in July, 2013, its however important to note that the African community feels that these awards are only meant to justify a bungled Africa strategy that is in competition with the African Regional At-Large Organization (AFRALO) and is bound to create friction between officials as it is alleged to have happened during the AFRALO / AFRICANN Joint Meeting in the ICANN 46 in Durban when the chair appeared late in the meeting and left immediately after reading the African strategy.
The proposed evaluation process of the award winners determination states that “Members will first discuss what they would be looking for from the nominees for the year based on the criteria above and any concurrent message associated with the award or significance. Thereafter, members vote to assess each nominee.” In addition, “The totals of the initial vote would be used to produce a short list of 2-3 candidates in each of two categories, Registries and Registrars”. Also “A further discussion will be held on the short listed candidates looking for consensus candidates and if necessary the members will vote for one nominee in each of the two categories”
This outline has not been put in a way that the community can determine the winner transparently. The ICANN Africa strategy is a good step to start to improve Africa’s visibility in the Internet namespace, however it must be properly constituted and analyzed to prevent the tendency to appear as progress yet its stage managed.