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2011: A Year in Review, from the Yes2DotAfrica Campaign

Sophia Bekele – Executive Director, DotConnectAfricaAs Executive Director of DotConnectAfrica (DCA) and spearhead of the Yes2DotAfrica Campaign, it gives me great pleasure to send this end of year message, at Christmas to our entire Pan-African constituency and well-wishers all over the world.

2011 was an unforgettable year. For Africa, 2011 started with revolution in North Africa that saw the overthrow of Heads of States in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Political turmoil and armed conflict has resulted in societies in transition as the old order of dictatorship has given way to a promising democratic future. Internet-based social media has been credited as facilitating this process of change as protesters took to Facebook, Twitter and Blogs on the Internet to mobilize and communicate with a global audience.

Japan witnessed a devastating earthquake and Tsunami which also caused severe damages to the Fukushima nuclear plant thereby causing radiation leakage and contamination.

Europe witnessed a deterioration of its sovereign debt problem and further crises in the Euro-zone as several countries sought to be bailed out of financial difficulty. Many countries within the EU lost their favorable credit ratings.

The need for greater financial accountability in an increasingly globalized world where ordinary people now have a stronger voice to express their grievances has spawned various protest movements such as Occupy Wall Street, Occupy London and Occupy Frankfurt. Economic anxieties and debt have caused demonstrators to take to the streets to express their frustrations and ask for more accountability on the part of high-street banks which most people blame for their financial distress.

These have had such a great impact globally that Time Magazine named the Protester as its 2011 Person of the Year.

Africa with its 'usual problems' seemed to be the most stable place in the world during 2011.

For those of use concerned with global Internet governance, June brought the great news of the ICANN Board's approval at Singapore of the expansion of the Internet through the adoption of a comprehensive programme to radically transform the Internet Domain Name System (DNS) and introduce new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs). DCA was at Singapore to lend its strong support to ICANN and use the same opportunity to further promote the Yes2DotAfrica campaign and launch the Miss.Africa programme for female youth digital self-awareness and empowerment. Following the approval of the new gTLD programme at Singapore, the next challenge was how to promote it to the wider global public.

From Singapore in Asia, DCA took its message to Germany where it joined other global players to participate in the Munich Conference on New gTLDs, and used the platform to share its experience on how to successfully 'build a community around your TLD'. DCA's presentation was well-received.

Next was Dakar, the capital of Senegal in Africa which hosted the 42nd ICANN International Meeting. DCA was a silver-level sponsor of the event and organized a superb DotAfrica exhibition that was visited by the President of Senegal, H.E. Monsieur Abdoulaye Wade and other important dignitaries including H.E. Monsieur Moustapha Guirassy, Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology of Senegal. Dakar gave DCA an opportunity to establish strong links with its growing Francophone constituency.

Major arguments during the year focused mainly on the sustainability of the multi-stakeholder model, the role of governments, and whether a new Internet governance architecture should be introduced to replace the current system. Against the backdrop that there are many people who have wrongly advocated for the restriction of the role of the private sector in Internet Governance, and see political sovereignty and Internet governance as one and the same, DCA believes that the present system should be maintained and consolidated and that more support should be given to ICANN to ensure a stable and secure global Internet that gives everyone a voice in its governance. ICANN should be allowed to deliver the new gTLD programme successfully without any interference from those who think the programme should be delayed or scrapped altogether.

DCA on its part continued to lead and shape the debate regarding DotAfrica, and through the leadership that it has shown in campaigning for the initiative globally, to consolidate its position as a leading front-runner to apply for the DotAfrica gTLD from ICANN.

During 2011 DCA made a strong case before ICANN leaders and executives, and successfully fought off an unwelcome plan to include DotAfrica in the List of Top-Level Reserved Names in order to make the string (and similar names in other languages) unavailable for any other applicant besides the African Union that sought special legislative protection regarding DotAfrica for its sole benefit. This would have frustrated the plans of genuine DotAfrica applicants such as DCA, and also the vision shared by many who want an inclusive and participatory DotAfrica serving the diverse needs and interests expected of a geographical Top-Level Domain and not something circumscribed for the benefit of a narrowly-defined Community.

DCA wishes to reiterate its belief that the mandate for DotAfrica should only be obtained through the globally-accepted ICANN new gTLD programme, and not through any separate process that would allow for the negotiation and delegation of DotAfrica outside the auspices and transparent oversight of the ICANN programme that enables any genuine prospective applicant to bid competitively.

In preparation for the new applications round that commences in early January 2012, DCA concluded an important MOU with its international registry partner, and finalized arrangements for the hosting of a computer network with modern servers to support the DotAfrica registry infrastructure. DCA therefore intends to make significant financial and corporate investments in order to establish an African-based registry to host the DotAfrica gTLD to be based in Africa for the benefit of Africans. This will assist in employment generation and technology transfer, utilization and building of technical capacity, and retention of scarce foreign exchange within the continent.

As we take stock of the major highlights of our activities during 2011, overall, we are pleased with the accomplishments of the Yes2DotAfrica Campaign.

We are thankful to all our supporters; for the hope they have provided to enable us sustain our global promotional efforts, their constant encouragement and the strength we drew from that, even as we underscore the need for their continuous support in this last mile of our long journey for the realization of the DotAfrica vision.

We ask that you continue to pray for DCA, DotAfrica and Africa during this Christmas period and beyond.

On behalf of DCA,and myself, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2012 in advance.

Sophia Bekele
Executive Director
DotConnectAfrica

About DotConnectAfrica

DotConnectAfrica

DotConnectAfrica a non-profit, non-partisan org registered in Mauritius, along with DCA Registry Services located in Nairobi, Kenya will sponsor, establish and operate a gTLD registry with global recognition and regional significance dedicated to the needs of Pan-African & African constituency. (Learn More)

Related topics: DNS, Domain Names, ICANN, Internet Governance, Top-Level Domains

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