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Domain Name System (DNS) 24 March 2016

Summary of the 4th Africa DNS Forum

Kevin Chege
By Kevin ChegeDirector, Internet Development

The 4th edition of the Africa Domain Name System Forum was held in Marrakech, Morocco from the 4th to the 6th of March 2016 at the Pullman Palmeraie Hotel. The event was graced by experts in the Domain Name System industry from within and out of Africa discussing issues affecting the growth of the Domain Name Business in Africa. Following successful events in other regions of Africa in 2013 (South Africa), 2014 (Nigeria, West Africa), 2015 (Kenya, East Africa) the event was taken to North Africa. 

More than 90 participants from 28 different countries attended the event with more than 800 others following the event over the DNS Forum Livestream link. The event was hosted by ANRT who run Morocco’s TLD .Ma and sponsored by Public Internet Registry (PIR), DNS Africa, ZA Central Registry (ZACR) and Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA). The forum was held over 2 and half days. 

On the first day, the three DNS Forum Organizing Partners opened the event with Dr. Paulos Nyirenda (AFTLD), Pierre Dandjinou (ICANN) and Dr. Dawit Bekele (ISOC) making opening statements at the welcoming session. This was followed by a opening Keynote delivered by ICANN’s President of the Global Domains Division Mr. Akram Atallah. The theme of the keynote was inline with the event theme “Strengthening Partnerships for the development of the African Domain Name”. 

The second day of the event saw discussions touching on Internationalized Domain Names which was a key topic for registries and registrars operating in North Africa and others operating in Arabic speaking countries.  As per previous DNS Forums, there were breakout sessions covering technical topics on DNSSEC, DANE and Technology Research. 

The second day also saw the formal opening session taking place with participation from the DNS Forum partners as well as ISOC’s President/CEO Mrs. Kathryn Brown and ANRT’s Director General Mr. El Mountassir Billah Azdine making remarks on the importance of partnerships between the various stakeholders in achieving significant goals in the development of the Internet in Africa. The significance of collaborative security in building trust in the Internet’s infrastructure was also highlighted. It was mentioned that the last decade and especially the last few years have been very positive for the Internet in Africa. However this significant improvement is being challenged by the problem of Cyber Security. Africa as in the other regions is affected by this problem, therefore, the Forum urged the African community to ensure that DNSSEC is implemented in the continent- for a trusted African DNS. 

Following the opening session, Mr, Azdine invited the DNS Forum attendees to a gala dinner hosted by the ANRT at “La maison des Arabes“. 

The final day of the forum was highlighted by discussions on Marketing and Emerging Trends in DNSSEC as well as the closing ceremony which was attended by Dr. Paulos Nyirenda (AfTLD), Pierre Dandjinou (ICANN), Hicham Lahjomri (Director ANRT) and Michuki Mwangi (ISOC) who all spoke about the successful 3 days of sharing, reflecting and networking around the issue of Strengthening Partnerships for the development of the African Domain Name.  

Some key conclusions and action points drawn from the discussions at the Forum were presented at the closing ceremony. These include:  

1. The need for a Common Payment Gateway that would allow registrars and resellers to buy domains from African ccTLDs thus allowing for cross border registrations between different African ccTLDs. 

2. The need for an accreditation framework spearheaded by AFTLD that would allow African Registrars to be accredited once to be able to sell domains across all African ccTLDs 

3. The need to localize similar Domain Name System Forums at country level to increase the reach and impact to local stakeholders as was done by the Benin Domain Name System Forum 

A recording of the event is available here:

It was an excellent event and we look forward to the next DNS Forum in the region!

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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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