Internet penetration in Africa grows from 11% to 28.6% in just 5 years despite challenges such as cyber security (Africa DNS Forum) Thumbnail
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Domain Name System (DNS) 25 March 2016

Internet penetration in Africa grows from 11% to 28.6% in just 5 years despite challenges such as cyber security (Africa DNS Forum)

Dawit Bekele
By Dawit BekeleRegional Vice President - Africa

Dawit Bekele, Director of the African Regional Bureau, Internet Society highlighted the positive growth of internet in Africa in his speech at the Africa DNS Forum 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco. However, he brought to our attention that cybersecurity is one important challenge that we all are all facing in Africa as in the other regions and therefore urged the African community to ensure that DNSSEC is implemented in the continent- for a trusted African DNS.

We invite you to read the full version of this keynote speech and join Intenet Society’s efforts to further promote DNSSEC in Africa.

It is the fourth time that the African DNS community meets to discuss the challenges and successes of Africa in building the DNS ecosystem on the continent.

In the last four years, we have discussed many issues that I believe have helped the industry move forward. There has been a lot of experience sharing that have enabled ccTLDs registries, registrars, regulators, etc. deal with their local challenges more efficiently. For example, I believe that we have had considerable discussions around Governance of Registries, Registry Policies, Automation of registries, promotion of registrars, capacity building, security, disaster recovery, IDN, ICANN processes, etc. And I am surprised by how much the level of the debate has been improving year after year.

These meetings have also created networks of people that can help each other when needed. For example, we see increasing number of African registries getting trainings from other African registries to implement DNSSEC or some other issues. Four years ago, we were mostly looking for others to come and help us. Today, we are helping each other, which is a major success.

We see progress but we would very much like to see that progress accelerated. Some problems that we were discussing in the first DNS Forum are still being posed the same way. Payment issues for example, have been reiterated at every meeting with limited progress over the years. I know that there are barriers beyond our control and we need to find way to remove those barriers.

But I think in general, the Forum has proved to be very useful for the community and for the Internet in Africa in general and we should continue to organize it every year. Nonetheless, after four years, we should start thinking of what should be our new focus for the forum.

The last decade and especially the last few years have been very positive for the Internet in Africa. Just 5 years ago, Internet penetration in Africa was just 11%, which was about a third of the world average.

Today, it is 28.6%, which is just 61% of the world average. The gap with the rest of the world is bridged at a very high speed. In fact, some countries like Morocco have a penetration rate that is higher than the world average, something unthinkable just a few years back.

Even the quality of connections is becoming comparable to those in developed countries. The connectivity in this hotel for example, is not that different from the connectivity in other developed countries’ hotels, something unthinkable just a few years back.

This brings us new opportunities including to the DNS industry. I think the various actors in the domain need to be more ambitious than a few years back since the market is widening and many of the challenges are being solved by the progress that we are seeing.

One important challenge that I would like to talk about is Cyber security, which has become a leading issue on the global Internet agenda, including in Africa.

As part of survey-based research that we have conducted, African ICT policy makers told us that they have major concerns with regards to the security of the Internet. They are right, because we now know the consequences of lack of security can be considerable.

I am confident that this community is up to the challenge and can insure that the African DNS is trusted. One important contribution of this community is to insure that DNSSEC is implemented in Africa. It is encouraging that we have 14 ccTLDs signed in Africa but this is still not enough. We need to have all of them signed.

Finally, I would like to congratulate all of those who have worked for months to make this meeting happen and wish us all a very successful forum.

Thank you also to ANRT for being our wonderful local host.

Thank you our partners AFTLD and ICANN.

Thank you PIR, NIRA, DNS AFRICA and ZACR for sponsorship.

Last but not least, thank you Morocco.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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