This is a complete unabridged version of the document by Ms. Sophia Bekele, Executive Director, DotConnectAfrica, titled: “General Comment on the ICANN Multi-Stakeholder Model & DCA’s Contribution to the ICANN Africa Strategy”. A shorter version was read out at the ICANN’s Public Forum Meeting on Thursday, October 18, 2012 due to constraint of time.
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My name is Sophia Bekele, I am Executive Director, DotConnectAfrica.
DCA Trust has been participating in the ICANN Global Community and attending the ICANN International Meetings regularly and actively within the past few years. DCA Trust is also a new gTLD applicant, and has submitted an application for the .Africa generic Top-Level Domain.
This ICANN-45 Meeting in Toronto has provided a landmark opportunity for the presentation of the initial draft of the ICANN Africa Strategy. We are thankful for the increased attention that is now being given to Africa, in order to put it more firmly on the ICANN Global Map.
ICANN thrives on its multi-stakeholder, transparent and consensus-based approach to policy development and implementation. Meanwhile, the same multi-stakeholder approach is often criticized, but the critics of this model are unable to devise an alternative approach that could effectively replace the multi-stakeholder model, and serve the global public interest on issues of Global Internet Governance. A global Internet requires that different stake-holders participate in its governance, and that a proper forum is provided for any interested party to participate ensure that such voices are heard. At the very minimum, the debate will be enriched based on democratic principles. DCA will continue to support the multi-stakeholder concept, without needing to over-emphasize that in the absence of the multi-stakeholder model, DCA Trust, as a private, non-profit, non-partisan, independent organization will not have the opportunity to be heard in matters of Global Internet Governance and as an active participant in the global ICANN Community.
At the ICANN-44 Prague meeting, DCA Trust had been concerned that a preliminary meeting was held between some ICANN officials and certain group(s) of the African constituency at ICANN. DCA Trust was not invited to that meeting, for which reason we demonstrated our grievance by writing a letter to ICANN to protest our exclusion. It later transpired that the meeting was to lay the initial framework for commencing the ICANN Africa Strategy, and we interpreted our apparent exclusion from participating in that meeting as a prelude to our non-involvement in the process of the ICANN Africa Strategy — both in formulation and implementation. We complained again based on multi-stakeholder principles. We strongly believe that all those participating as recognized constituents of the African Community at ICANN should be involved in any ICANN Africa Strategy. Even whilst maintaining that our initial complaints were valid, we also believe that all that is now in the past and that DCA Trust was able to make its point.
Accordingly, in moving forward towards future and positive cooperative endeavors, we are thankful to Mr. Tarek Kamel, the Senior Adviser to the ICANN President & CEO, who also has the primary responsibility for leading the formulation and implementation of the ICANN Africa Strategy. Mr. Kamel has been gracious enough to meet with DCA Trust here in Toronto and discuss the framework under which DCA Trust will participate in the ICANN Africa Strategy. To this end, DCA Trust is pleased to announce that it has developed a new initiative — the Internet Business Council for Africa (IBCA) — that is aimed at increasing the African private sector participation at ICANN; to be implemented as a component part of the ICANN Africa Strategy.
The principal objective of this initiative is to help promote and increase the multi-stakeholder diversity at ICANN in line with the broader strategic objectives of the ICANN Strategic Plan covering the three-year period that spans July 2013 to June 2016. We envision that the inclusion and early adoption of the proposed IBCA initiative as a key component of the ICANN Africa Strategy will strengthen ICANN’s multi-stakeholder model; as the organization increases the visibility of its work and overall outreach/communication activities in Africa, and DCA Trust is proud to propose this as a strategic input that would enable it achieve further levels of cooperation with ICANN in the implementation of its Strategic Plan. The private sector is seen as the key driver of socio-economic transformation and enabler of economic growth in an emerging Africa, therefore, any initiative that attempts to increase the participation of this important business and non-governmental constituency in Global Internet Governance will no doubt strengthen the multi-stakeholder work of ICANN. DCA Trust has already submitted a copy of the IBCA proposal to ICANN through Mr. Tarek Kamel, and will also avail copies to the ICANN leaders.
In closing, DCA Trust is thankful for the opportunity afforded by this ICANN-45 Public Forum in Toronto to share its proposed IBCA initiative.