Discussion within the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers tends to focus on wealthy countries, demonstrating a gap between developed and emerging nations, according to participants at last week’s ICANN public meeting in Cairo.
“Not that ICANN is not concerned about Africa, but the issues that get discussed are issues concerning developed countries,” noted Paul Levins, ICANN vice president of corporate affairs.
ICANN will continue reaching out to Africa through its fellowship program and will encourage African participation, Levins said. However, the group can only do so much, and Africans within ICANN have a responsibility to raise issues of concern to them, he added.
“The gap is very obvious,” said Michuki Mwangi of the Internet Society in Africa. “Africa is more concerned with issues of setting up the top-level domains, Internet exchange points and root servers. The developed countries dealt with those issues long ago.”
Representatives from 18 African countries attended the ICANN public meeting, but Mwangi argued that their concerns are considered elementary by the developed nations in attendance, who have been using the Internet consistently for at least 15 years.
“When we are in Africa, other countries consider Kenya, South Africa and Egypt to be in another technological level,” he said. “But when we come to ICANN, it is a completely different level; we are lost.”