What is Internet Governance?
Over the past years, the Internet has played a major role in the growth and prosperity of our society in areas of trade, education, health, governmental services, or simply for entertainment. As of year 2012, access to the Internet is recognised as a basic human right which enables individuals to "exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression" as stipulated by the United Nation Human Right Council.
To ensure a sustainable growth of a stable, secure and robust Internet, it is vital that Governments, Civil and Technical societies along with all other stakeholders engage in dialogues and forums regarding the Internet, its development and related issues on how the Internet should be managed. This is what Internet governance is about.
In line with the above objective, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was held in two phases. The first one took place in Geneva hosted by the Government of Switzerland from 10 to 12 December 2003, and the second one took place in Tunis hosted by the Government of Tunisia, from 16 to 18 November 2005. [more on WSIS].
One of the outcomes of the last meeting provided a definition of Internet Governance as follows: '' Internet governance is the development and application by Governments, the private sector and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures, and programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet.'' (WGIG 2005)
IG issues broadly covers:
- Open access to governance processes;
- Network security and stability;
- Responsible management of critical Internet resources.
There are several organisations involved in the governance of the Internet globally and addressing the above issues. AFRINIC collaborates closely with these global organisations, amongst others, namely:
Address Supporting Organization (ASO)
and the Number Resource Organization (NRO)
On 24 October 2003, the four existing RIRs – APNIC, ARIN, LACNIC, and RIPE NCC – entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ICANN to form the NRO.
The Number Resource Organization (NRO) is a coordinating body for the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) that manage the distribution of Internet number resources including IP addresses and Autonomous System Numbers. Each RIR consists of the Internet community in its region.
Following its incorporation in April 2005, AFRINIC signed a MoU with the NRO.
The NRO acts as the ICANN Address Supporting Organization (ASO), formed to review and develop recommendations on IP address policy and to advise the ICANN Board. An elected body called the NRO Number Council (NRO NC) serves as the ASO Address Council (ASO AC), overseeing recommendations on IP address policy, including the management of policy development activities, and appoint members to the ICANN Board of Directors.
Each of the Regional Internet Registries appoints three members of the ASO Address Council. Two members are selected by the regional policy forum of each of the RIRs and one member is appointed from the Executive Board of each RIR.
The ASO AC representatives from the AFRINIC service region are:
- Alan Barrett: Jan 2012-31 to Dec 2013 (appointed by the board);
- Fiona Asonga: Jan 2011-31 to Dec 2013 (elected by the community);
- Douglas Onyango: Jan 2012-31 to Dec 2014 (elected by the community)
ICANN - IANA - ASO
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non for profit organisation coordinating the Domain Name System (DNS), Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system management, and root server system management functions.
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is responsible for the global coordination of the DNS Root, IP addressing, and other Internet protocol resources such as IP numbers or addresses.
IANA manages the global pool of Internet numbers (Internet Protocols IPs and Autonomous System Numbers ASNs) and distributes them among the five regional Internet registries (RIRs).
The Address Supporting Organization (ASO) is one of the supporting organisations that the ICANN Bylaws say should be "formed through community consensus". The purpose of the ASO is to review and develop recommendations on Internet Protocol (IP) address policy and to advise the ICANN Board.
How are RIRs allocated address space?
The Internet Number Resource blocks allocated by IANA is governed by the following global polices that define their distribution.
- Criteria governing the allocation of IPv4 address space from the IANA to the RIRs
- Criteria governing the allocation of IPv6 address space from the IANA to the RIRs
- Criteria governing the allocation of ASN Blocks from IANA to RIRs
In February 2011, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) allocated the remaining last five /8s of IPv4 address space to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) in accordance with the Global Policy for the Allocation of the Remaining IPv4 Address Space. With this allocation, the free pool of available IPv4 addresses is now fully depleted.
The minimum IPv6 allocation from IANA to an RIR is a /12, and to this date, no RIR has requested for additional space from IANA.
What is a global Internet Protocol address allocation policy?
The ASO MoU (21 October 2004) - Global policies are defined within the scope of this agreement as Internet number resource policies that have the agreement of all RIRs [Regional Internet Registries] according to their policy development processes and ICANN, and require specific actions or outcomes on the part of IANA or any other external ICANN-related body in order to be implemented
How are the global policies developed?
The Regional Internet Registries are governed by policies that are the result of bottom up community driven proposals that are debated through the Policy Development Process (PDP) on the mailing lists and at the public policy meetings held twice a year.
Once the community reaches consensus, the policy is implemented at the regional level. In order for the policy to become a global policy, it needs to reach consent in all five RIR regions.
ASO takes these global policies to the ICANN board for ratification. They are then implemented by the IANA.
The Internet Governance Forum
The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was set up by the United Nations following on the working sessions of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The Internet Governance Forum is an annual platform for multi-stakeholder consultation for the global Internet fraternity to explore, discuss and solve crucial Internet-related issues. Since 2006, the IGF brings stakeholders together from the government sector, the Industry, and the Civil Society to discuss Internet governance issues at annual meetings.
At present, three out of the ten seats allocated to the academic and technical community are occupied by RIRs representatives on the IGF Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG).
The NRO collectively and AFRINIC individually are keen participants at the annual global IGF with workshops and expert speakers present on different panels. Get an overview of some of these contributions over the years.
IGF 2012: Baku Azerbaijan
AFRNIC partnered with the RIPE NCC and the Arab IGF to organise a workshop on Best Common Practices for Building Internet Capacity.
The NRO organised two workshops entitled : Moving to IPv6: Challenges for Internet Governance and RPKI and Internet governance.
IGF 2011: Nairobi Kenya
The sixth Internet Governance Forum meeting was organised from 27 to 30 September 2011, in Nairobi, Kenya.
AFRINIC organised three workshops on Interconnecting Africa ; SWOT analysis of the impact of mobile Internet on Internet governance and Cyber security.
AFRINIC also collaborated with the Number Resources Organization (NRO) on two workshops: IPv6 and Enhancing Understanding: Facilitating Internet Governance Through Openness and Transparency.
IGF 2010: Vilnius Lithania
AFRINIC supported the Internet Governance Forum both regionally and globally. Two workshops were organised by AFRINIC during the global IGF event in Vilnius. The first on Internet and FOSS: Applications and Challenges for Africa and a second one on the Impact of Internet Governance on Internet development in Africa.
The NRO held two workshop titled: IPv6 around the world: surveying the current and future deployment of IPv6 and Enhancing Transparency in Internet Governance. Click on the links below to read more on these workshops.
The outcome by the East African IGF presented at the IGF 2010 can be read here.
IGF 2009: Sharm El Sheik Egypt
AFRINIC was actively involved in the organisation and facilitation of a successful West Africa Internet Governance Forum and the overview of the event and communique was presented at IGF 2009 Sharm El Sheik by the Ghana Ministry of Communications.
During IGF 2009, the NRO participated in a workshop titled ''Adopting IPv6: What You Need To Know''. Click here to read more on the outcome of the workshop.
AFRINIC and the NRO were also actively present at:
The Regional Internet Governance Forums (IGF) are multi-stakeholder platforms focusing on Internet governance issues such as access, cyber security, critical internet resources and Internet governance for development (IG4D) specific to each sub region. The outcome of these forums is shared at the Global IGF.
AFRINIC supports the African sub-regional IGFs though content building, and by providing financial / technical support.
Few of these forums include the African Internet Governance forum, the West Africa Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF), the East Africa Internet Governance Forum (EAIGF), the Forum de Gouvernance de l'Internet en Afrique Centrale (FGI-CA), the Southern Africa Internet Governance Forum (SAIGF) and the Arab Internet Governance Forum (A-IGF).
African IGF (AF-IGF)
The Internet Governance space in Africa has been very active during the WSIS process with regional meetings held from 2002 to 2005 in Bamako, Accra, Addis Ababa, Cairo, Johannesburg, Douala and Tunis.
This forum takes on board representatives from governments, businesses and non-governmental organisations and addresses Internet Governance issues in the continent to provide substantive input to the global IGF. process. Moreover, within the IGF global initiative, Africa has already hosted two IGF in Egypt (2009) and in Kenya (2011).
In 2012, over 200 participants attended the first AF-IGF held in Cairo, Egypt. Read the report here.
The 2nd African Internet Governance Forum was in Kenya from 24-26 September 2013 at the Multimedia University.
This multi-stakeholder forum consists of 22 Arab nations. The Arab IGF was launched in 2012 following the endorsement of the outcome of the Conference and Public Consultations, jointly organised by LAS and ESCWA in Beirut, to establish the Arab IGF.
Click here to learn more about these issues.
East Africa Internet Governance Forum (EAIGF)
The EAIGF regroups East African stakeholders to build a common understanding of East Africa Internet governance issues to enable meaningful participation in global Internet policy, governance and development. The participating nations are Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
Read more on the East Africa Internet Governance Forum (EAIGF)
Forum de gouvernance de l'internet en Afrique centrale (FGI-CA)
This multi-stakeholder forum tackles several ICT related themes and Internet governance issues in the Central African region. The participating nations are: Cameroun, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, DR Congo, Central Africa Republic and Chad.
West Africa Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF)
The West Africa Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF) aims to promote Internet Governance issues in West Africa through a multi-stakeholder process. It is run by a consortium led by the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA). Other members of the consortium include AFRINIC, Panos West Africa, the IISD, APC, ISOC and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The Member states participating in these forums are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
Read more on the West Africa Internet Governance Forum (WAIGF).
AF* are organisations that constitute the African Internet ecosystem. The idea to set up the AF* regrouping organisations supporting Internet development in Africa dates back to December 1998. A meeting held in Cotonou, Benin was organised where African Internet pioneers debated on the theme of Internet Governance in Africa. This was the First global meeting on Internet governance to discuss Internet governance issues in the African region.
At this meeting, Dr Nii Quaynor, the first African recipient of the John Postel Award highlighted the need to set up technical institutions to support Internet growth and to unite the African Technical community.
These organisations today constitute the ecosystem of the African Internet. They cover the following areas: Numbers (AFRINIC), Security ( AfGWG, AfricaCERT ), Community and Policy (AIG, AfGWG), Capacity building (All AF*), Research and Education (AfREN), Infrastructure (AFPIF), Names (AfTLD). Other organisations in Africa are emerging within the ecosystem.
AfNOG is a forum for exchange of Internet-related technical information. The forum engages in issues like implementation of new networks through community participation. Workshops and meetings allow network service providers to gather and discuss on how to provide a stable service to end users. The first AFNOG meeting was held from 30 April to 6 May 2000.
The African research and education networking (AfREN) is a forum for building an all-inclusive African Research and Education community that addresses collectively issues like collaboration, access to bandwidth and other critical resources, capacity building and content development.
AFRICA Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT)
The Africa CERT programme is an initiative to fight cyber crime in Africa. AFRINIC, AFNOG and the Africa Asia Forum on Network Research & Engineering have been actively involved in promoting and supporting the CERT programme following the Declaration of Kigali to create a Computer Emergency Response Team. CERT Training sessions were held during AfNOG-11/AFRINIC-12 in Rwanda, AFRINIC-13 in South Africa, AFNOG-12/AFRINIC-14 in Tanzania, AFRINIC-15 in Cameroon and AFNOG-13/AFRINIC-16 in The Gambia.
AfTLD is the ICANN recognised representative of Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) managers from the African region. AfTLD was established and registered in 2002 to act as a focal point for African ccTLD managers in coordinating, formulating, developing and presenting a unified approach to issues related to the Domain Name System. AfTLD also provides a platform for technical capacity development, information exchange, ccTLD Best practices and Research & Development
The AFRINIC Government Working Group (AfGWG) was set up at the initiative of AFRINIC to work with African governments and regulators to address general Internet governance challenges in Africa.
The African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) is a multi-stakeholder platform that addresses Interconnection, Peering, and Traffic Exchange issues in Africa and provides participants with insights and opportunities which help grow Internet infrastructure and services in Africa.
AFRINIC works in collaboration with a wide range of institutions namely governments and other related organisations with an interest in Internet governance issues on a global level.
Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA)
The Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) is a forum for policy dialogue. One of the principles underlying ADEA's philosophy is that the responsibility of education rests with the governments of Africa.
ADEA is concerned with fostering a process that empowers African ministries of education and makes development agencies more responsive to the concept of national ownership. ADEA created its ICT task force in 2011.
African Telecommunications Union (ATU)
The African Union consists of several specialised bodies and several of them deal with ICT issues.
The African Telecommunications Union (ATU) is a specialized agency of the African Union that works towards the development of the ICT sector in Africa. The ATU is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya
The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)
The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) is a programme of the African Union (AU) adopted in Lusaka, Zambia in 2001. NEPAD's objective is to enhance Africa's growth, development and participation in the global economy.
Find out more on NEPAD's e-Africa programme.
Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF)
The Organisation internationale de la francophonie was created in 1970. Its mission is to embody the active solidarity between its 75 member states and governments (56 members and 19 observers), which together represent over one-third of the United Nations' member states and account for a population of over 890 million people, including 220 million French speakers.
The OIF has an active global ICT programme.
The Organisation for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD)
The Internet Technical Advisory Committee (ITAC) to the OECD brings together the counsel and technical expertise of technically focused organisations, in a decentralised networked approach to policy formulation for the Internet economy.
The Regional African Satellite Communication Organisation (RASCOM)
In the context of the present lack of telecommunication infrastructure, and recognising that investment in telecommunications can considerably increase productivity, effectiveness and quality of life in almost all socio-economic sectors in Africa, African leaders decided, following several consultations, to combine their efforts to provide the continent with telecommunications infrastructure capable of ensuring the sustainable development of telecommunications in each African country, with special emphasis on service to rural areas.
RASCOM is an intergovernmental commercially run organisation whose capital is open to the private sector.
International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
The ITU is the United Nations specialised agency for information and communication technologies.
The ITU allocates global radio spectrum and satellite orbits, develop the technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect, and strive to improve access to ICTs to underserved communities worldwide. ITU activities also include Internet Policy and Governance.
ITU membership includes Member States (governments), ICT regulators, leading academic institutions and private companies
World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT)
The ITU convened the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 3-14 December 2012.
The conference reviewed the current International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs), the global treaty outlining the principles for the provision and operation of international telecommunications. The last review of the treaty was done in 1998 in Melbourne, Australia.
In an attempt to get feedback from all regions prior the Dubai meeting, the ITU had organised regional preparatory meetings in coordination with the regional telecommunication organisations. AFRINIC had actively participated in preparatory meetings as a Sector Member of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (ITU-D) .
AFRINIC participated in the WCIT preparatory meetings (African and Arab states) to support the member states by providing technical advice and feedback, at their request. It is the Member States who will be making the final decisions on all the proposed changes to the ITRs during the Dubai meeting.
Proposed changes or additions to the ITRs can be summarised under the following headings:
- Human right of access to communications
- Security in the use of ICTs
- Protection of critical national resources
- International frameworks
- Charging and accounting, including taxation
- Interconnection and interoperability
- Quality of service
The ITU Council has made a draft of the ITRs available for public comment to enable all stakeholders to express their views and opinions on the content of the Draft. Please click here for more info. AFRINIC believes that the best outcome for the WCIT is one that:
- Maintains the multi-stakeholder environment to the best possible extent.
- Ensures the resulting ITRs reflect high-level principles that are updated to meet today's environment.
- Keeps technology neutral and does not mandate items that could have a detrimental effect on the Internet's evolution and stability.
AFRINIC encourages the African community at large to become more familiar with current discussions and to advocate your country's or orgnisation's or even your personal position through the proper channels (http://www.itu.int/GlobalDirectory/search.html) to guarantee that all opinions and positions are taken into consideration.
World Telecommunication Standardisation Assembly (WTSA)
WTSA is held every four years and defines the work program for the ITU-Telecommunications Standardization Sector (ITU-T). At each WTSA:
- The overall work program, structure, and processes for the ITU-T is determined
- Resolutions are adopted that define the scope of ITU-T work program
- Recommendations (Standards) are revised and approved
- Study Groups and Questions are created and structured, Chairmen are elected and the scope of each Study Group's work is adopted
A one-day Global Standards Symposium (GSS) was held the day before WTSA.
Preparations for WTSA-12 took place throughout 2012, notably in regional preparatory meetings leading up to the WTSA that will take place mid-November in Dubai. The previous WTSA was held in 2008 in South Africa.
AFRINIC participated in the WSTA preparatory meetings (African and Arab states) to support the member states with providing technical advice and feedback, at their request. It is the Member States who will be making the final decisions on all the proposed changes at the WSTA meeting held in Dubai.
AFRINIC solicits the African community at large participation to become more familiar with current discussions and to advocate your country's or organisation's or even personal position through the proper channels (http://www.itu.int/GlobalDirectory/search.html) to guarantee that all opinions and positions are taken into consideration at the WSTA-12 meeting.