Why AU heads of state should have ITU, ICANN on the same podium

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I have been accused of not being patriotic in the past for criticizing some of the steps that Africa takes and the way some of the representatives behave. But I ask myself; should I just follow blindly without asking the questions so that I can be in the good books or be deemed patriotic enough?

For instance, at the Africa Union meetings, representatives of our governments sit and discuss how ICT is going to accelerate Africa’s development while you can just see through it; some of these guys don’t care about the stuff. If they did, then they would take the right steps or at least attempt to.

At the press conference, I listened to the AU secretary say how ITU and World Bank heads are going to address the heads of state summit. Then I asked myself, where is ICANN?

Yes, Africa has always felt comfortable with ITU because its an inter governmental body, where they can talk to their own kind while ICANN is a body dominated by the private sector. But the roles of ITU and ICANN are complementary!

How does Africa expect to develop without addressing issues of critical internet infrastructure? How do we develop while most of the domains are not operational or have one issue over the other?

Yes, the ITU will help by setting the policies and giving funds to governments, something that ICANN doesn’t do, at ICANN, each country must make its own networks and get into partnerships with other people in there. There is no funds or donations but if there is a business case, then the country can benefit.

How can a country use ICT for development while connectivity costs are high? How can the country develop if it has no local content? How can local content develop if you do not have control over your domain? Even if you control the domain and the registry, how can local content develop while it is hosted abroad because the cost of hosting locally is high and affected by power outages? Even if there is the domain and local hosting, there is need to invest in critical infrastructure like the Internet Exchange Points where local ISPs can share and exchange local content (peer).

Yes, ICANN can not answer or solve all these questions but neither can ITU!

In the course of my job, I have heard all manner and sorts of allegations on why the governments have not leveraged on the power of ITU. If you hear some of the issues you will be disgusted at the lack of knowledge, ignorance or misinformation over the role of ICANN/ITU in the whole debate.

I would have loved to see Rod Beckstrom, ICANN CEO and president take the stand at the heads of state summit and address the presidents. Maybe tell them of ICANN’s commitment to Africa and that almost all of the problems are local and can only be solved by actions from the higher offices.

It is unfortunate that when decisions come from above, then they are implemented faster than the ones coming from bottom to top. So it would have been the right thing to do.

I would have loved to hear what Rwandese president Paul Kagame will say about the fact that .rw is yet to be sorted out, am sure if he directs the relevant people to do what is necessary, it will be done. Kagame is considered the emblem of ICT progress among African heads of state.

Of course all these will amount to nothing if the public is not educated about locally available resources and why they should promote their domains. Kenya may be far in managing its domain but you can read this post on what is the problem with .ke.