Tuesday, 25 October 2011

ICANN says it hasn't forgotten Africa after all

A media release, "ICANN Dakar Meeting Opens with Calls for Greater Internet Access for Africans", makes reference to what it describes as "support for Generic Top Level Domain Applicants from Developing Countries". Speaking from Dakar, Senegal, ICANN President/CEO Rod Beckstrom is quoted as saying:
“There has been tremendous progress toward greater connectivity. In ten years, the number of Internet users has grown 25-fold,” said Beckstrom. “That is rapid growth, yet it still represents only 11.5 percent of the African population.” 
Beckstrom made his comments during the kick-off of ICANN’s 42nd public meeting in Dakar, Senegal. He told the conference that discussions will take place during the week on how to best provide financial and logistical support to applicants of new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) from developing countries. 
“ICANN’s global community is already taking steps to help needy applicants apply for new gTLDs,” said Beckstrom. “A joint working group has spent many hours working on a proposal that the Board will consider this week on how best to provide that support.” 
The new gTLD program will vastly expand the number of generic Top-Level Domains from the current 22, which includes such familiar endings as “.com”,”.net” and “.gov.”
Afro Leo, who has noted that even the developed world is largely reluctant and unexcited to fork out US$ 185,000 for the privilege of applying for a gTLD which it might never get, wonders how many African governments, businesses and organisation will see any advantages to paying out and jumping through ICANN's hoops in order to get their own new gTLDs.  Perhaps a reader can enlighten him.

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