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Connecting the World 9 April 2016

The Internet Society African Regional Bureau at IETF in Buenos Aires

Betel Hailu
By Betel HailuCommunications Coordinator for the African Regional Bureau

This week the Internet Society African Regional bureau was in Buenos Aires represented by its Director Dawit Bekele to promote the Africa-IETF Initiative amongst other related activities. The Africa-IETF initiative aims at promoting innovation in Internet technology in Africa by developing a strong community of Africans who participate in the Internet Standards development process at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

Over the past many years, the participation of Africans in IETF meetings has been very limited. The general lack of awareness about IETF has prevented the wider African community from ceasing the opportunity to learn about the state of art of Internet technology, while it considerably hindered the innovative capacity of individuals, in particular the youth.

Talking, at the IETF in Buenos Aires, Dawit Bekele, said, “I congratulate the Latin American community for the successful organization of the first IETF meeting in Latin America. This has been possible to the vision of the Internet community in Latin America that has been able to develop a strong pool of participants from the region in just a few years. We hope that Africa can emulate your success and become the next region to increase its participation in IETF and host an IETF meeting”.

Today, connectivity in Africa has increased considerably with 30% compared to 5% just 10 years ago and is still growing rapidly.  Broadband is becoming widely available thanks to wireless technologies. Devices such as tablets and mobile phones are now more affordable than in the past. More and more Universities are being connected providing the youth educational opportunities in the fields of computer science and engineering. This brings major opportunities for Africa to participate significantly in IETF and reap the benefit of being at the forefront of Internet standards development,

Dawit Bekele added that, “ The Internet society will work to be a catalyst for African participation together with other interested organisations and individuals.” Some of the strategies that will be used to bring increased Africans’ participation in IETF will include:

  • Supporting Universities to add IETF related materials to their courses
  • Creating IETF Hackathons in African Universities
  • Creating viewing hubs of IETF meetings
  • Holding IETF webinars on selected topics for the wider African audience
  • Creating regional discussion groups aligned to selected IETF working groups

The successful implementation of the Africa-IETF initiative will nevertheless need, added Dawit Bekele, the collaborative efforts of all those concerned including the Internet Society and IETF, the African Internet Technical community and various African stakeholders such as AFRINIC, Network Operator Groups, IXPs, ISPs, ccTLDs, as well as regional organizations like the African Union and Regional Economic Communities.

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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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