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Cape Verde, Somalia lead way in Africa domain operations

o Rebecca Wanjiku
15.12.2009 kl 15:50 |

The tiny Atlantic island of Cape Verde and conflict-torn Somalia took over their country-code domain operations in 2009, demonstrating that political will as well as investments in training and technical operations are the essential requirements for African nations that want to manage their own domains.

 

The tiny Atlantic island of Cape Verde and conflict-torn Somalia took over their country-code domain operations in 2009, demonstrating that political will as well as investments in training and technical operations are the essential requirements for African nations that want to manage their own domains.

Half of the African country code Top Level Domains are either nonoperational or are operated by entities based abroad and most of the others are dogged by weak management structure and lack of operational policies.

"Most African domains remain substantially underdeveloped, and are not able to participate meaningfully in fast-tracking Internet penetration in their countries; there is still the issue of acquiring necessary skills to run successful domains, plus the need for some governments to come on board to assist their country domains through funding and other support measures," said Vika Mpisane, President of the Africa TLD organization (AfTLD).

Both Cape Verde (.cv) and Somalia (.so) got back their domains within a year of the application. Countries like Rwanda (.rw) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (.cd) have been complaining about delays in getting their domains for the last three years and redelegation is yet to be done.

The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is charged with managing Internet resources and redelegation applications and disputes are handled by Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, a department within the organization.

In recommending redelegation, IANA requires applicants to demonstrate that the prospective sponsoring organization has the requisite skills to operate the TLD appropriately; that the prospective manager supervises and operates the domain name from within the country represented by the TLD; and that the prospective manager must be equitable and fair to all groups encompassed by the TLD that may request domain names

The rules also require the prospective manager to have the requisite government authority and that significant interested parties in the country should agree that the applicant should handle the management.

Lack of political will to support African TLDs through proper security, financial and other investments has prevented most domains from functioning at acceptable global standards, AfTLD's Mpisane said.

"In some countries, the entities holding the domain, governments and Internet stakeholders have failed to compromise on core issues which is a prerequisite for redelegation, stalling the process altogether," said Douglas Onyango, CTO of Delta IT Solutions in Uganda.

Some countries suffer from bigger problems such as lack of bandwidth that makes running other critical communications challenging, let alone running the domains within the country.

Legislation has been cited as one way of speeding up redelegation because once a country passes a law on how Internet resources will be managed and which organization will be charged with managing the TLD, then ICANN has to comply. For instance, the redelegation of .cv was pursuant to the law passed in Cape Verde in December 2007 spelling out management of Internet resources.

Cost has been a major issue. Most domains are highly priced, which blocks the majority of the population from acquiring them and preferring other generic domains such as .com .net and .org.

"The Cameroon TLD (domains) cost about $119 per year, which is beyond the reach of many people; I can't imagine any Togolese, Angolans or Cameroonians paying exorbitant fees for their TLDs," said Bill Zimmerman, co-founder of Limbe Labs in Cameroon.

However, some countries such as South Africa, Nigeria, and Namibia have recorded success in running TLD registries with efficient management structures, policies, security and reliability mechanisms.

"South Africa (.co.za) is a successfully administered TLD with 80 percent of the domains registered in the Africa region; .co.za is highly integral to the identity of South African internet community; there is a strong sense of national pride and I would like to see more countries adopt it for their TLDs," Zimmerman added.

To address training issues, AfTLD is running courses on registry management and attack and contingency response training, offered in French and English.

Keywords: Internet  
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