One of the hot topics at this year's Internet Governance Forum was the continuing development of the infrastructure of the Internet in emerging markets. For example, in a workshop entitled "Strengthening ccTLDs in Africa”, attendees debated the drive for technical excellence, better policy structures and enhanced quality of service for the continent's ccTLDs.
The sustainable growth of the global network relies on the continuing development of the Internet everywhere, and the Internet community has been aware of the need to improve the stability of the infrastructure of the Internet in emerging economies for many years.
To support this development, we provide a secondary DNS service to not-yet-established ccTLDs, free of charge. Other not-for-profit organisations in the Internet community offer the same service, including the Internet Systems Consortium, Packet Clearing House and APNIC, the Regional Internet Registry for Asia Pacific, to mention but a few.
At present, we offer this service to 83 ccTLDs worldwide, including the Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) operated by some of them, but this is not a long-term arrangement. Our aim is that, over time, as these ccTLDs become well-established, they will be able to host their own secondary DNS service, or pass the responsibility to a commercial service provider.
It's great to see that we are moving in the right direction. In the last few years, we've seen a steady decline in the number of ccTLDs that need our support.
In 2007, we decommissioned the service for .ie (Republic of Ireland), .lt (Lithuania), .na (Namibia), .sk (Slovakia) and .ro (Romania). They were followed in 2008 by .hk (Hong Kong) and .sg (Singapore), and earlier this year by .za (South Africa).
Yet, over the same time period, we have also taken on the secondary DNS service for a few other small ccTLDs, including .cu (Cuba), .sn (Senegal), .tj (Tajikistan), .sa (Saudi Arabia) and, most recently, .sy (Syria).
In the IGF workshop mentioned above, Anne-Rachel Inné, Regional Liaison for Africa at ICANN, highlighted that some African ccTLDs struggle to find the resources to keep up with the latest DNS advancements and policy developments; server downtime and power outages are also commonplace.
Not all emerging ccTLDs face the same challenges, but we believe that it is the responsibility of the whole Internet community to ensure that whatever the challenges might be, we tackle them together. Only by working together as a community to support those who are in the early stages of Internet development, can we safeguard the sustainable growth of the Internet worldwide.
By Paul Rendek, Head of External Relations and Communications, RIPE NCC