Africa’s regional internet registry (Afrinic), a nonprofit, Internet governance organization like RIPE, ARIN, APNIC, and LACNIC, that operates a registry for unique internet protocol (IP) numbers that serve as network addresses, has been in a clash with Cloud Innovation (CI) since July.
Afrinic intended to revoke over 6 million IP addresses from Cloud Innovation backing the claim with a breach in policy. Cloud Innovation then sued for damages. It was granted a court order against the organization to the tune of $50 million (R750 million). Since Afrinic did not have $50 million, Cloud Innovation froze the organization’s bank account in executing the court order. As a result, Afrinic is still locked out of its bank account.
“The decision was undertaken without the appropriate risk assessment of how it could impact the region. Also, any ambiguities related to IP use should have been disclosed at the beginning of the contract, as any abrupt judgments, later on, spur more confusion rather than provide solutions,” commented Grinius.
This crisis has raised alarms for the entire African Internet Sustainability. Unless something is done towards improving the situation soon, Afrinic will not make payroll or pay its bills. Fortunately, Community efforts are underway to raise emergency funds for the organization and Afrinic has previously stated that it would try to apply for funds from Joint Regional Internet Registry Stability Fund.
Researchers at the Internet Governance Project at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Public Policy examined the crisis and concluded it as “a fight over crumbs”.
AFRINIC’s attack on Cloud Innovation was an overreaction to its past problems and was undertaken without appropriate risk management. While it may have a case, its numbers are at drop in the bucket compared to what Africa will need to develop.
Cloud Innovation, faced with an existential threat to its business, is also over-reacted with what can only be called legal terrorism.