Project Update

Wednesday 20 December 2023

Charting Progress: The Coalition for Digital Africa's Year-End 2023 Recap

Pierre Dandjinou, VP, Stakeholder Engagement - Africa

Charting Progress: The Coalition for Digital Africa's Year-End 2023 Recap

The Coalition for Digital Africa is a groundbreaking initiative dedicated to expanding Internet access across the continent. Africa, home to the world's youngest population, is experiencing rapid Internet growth, and the Coalition's mission is clear: to build a robust and secure Internet infrastructure to connect more Africans.

In 2023, we witnessed remarkable progress. Conceived by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Coalition has grown to include 12 partners of regional and international organizations that are collaborating to implement projects across three focus areas. Here is what we have been up to:

DNS Infrastructure

  • Most recently, we launched the ICANN Managed Root Server (IMRS) Installation in Cairo, Egypt, which is the second in Africa. The first IMRS deployment was in Nairobi, Kenya in November 2022. As a result of these deployments, Internet users in Africa now have more resilient and stable access to DNS Root Zone services, with 80% Africa-based Internet DNS root queries to the IMRS resolved in the region.
  • We are supporting Internet exchange points (IXPs) in the region to improve Internet access by making it faster and more affordable. The Internet Society awarded grants to three IXPs in Benin, Malawi and Rwanda, allowing them to enhance their technical infrastructure and local capabilities.
  • The Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) Roadshows project was initiated in collaboration with African country code top-level domain (ccTLDs) registries in Burkina Faso and Botswana. The next seven ccTLD operators to receive training and technical support in 2024 were announced.
  • The Coalition added two new probe nodes in the ICANN service level agreement monitoring system within the Africa region. This allows the system to generate monitoring measurements of service availability and performance as experienced by Internet users from different regions in Africa.

Meaningful Connectivity

  • Higher education in Africa is a crucial focus, with projects aimed at making email and other systems Universal Acceptance (UA) ready. This step is essential for a truly global, inclusive, and multilingual Internet.
  • The Association for African Universities (AAU) and ICANN conducted an assessment of email systems and websites of AAU-member institutions. The study revealed that out of 422 institutions, 54 are UA-ready (for both email systems and websites). AAU is taking remedial steps to address this gap by conducting training for systems administrators and web developers from AAU member institutions. This year, two in-person workshops were delivered for 69 participants from 34 universities. AAU is also working towards inclusion of the UA in university curriculum.

Capacity Development

  • African Top Level Domains Organization (AFTLD) wrote a needs assessment report which highlighted needs and priorities for 10 ccTLDs. This assessment forms the basis for training sessions with selected ccTLDs in 2024.
  • The 2023 Africa Domain Name Industry Study is in progress to help assess the current conditions of the African DNS landscape and identify potential avenues for growth and development, at both the local and regional levels. 

    ICANN org is currently requesting community input on the Final Draft of this study. This Public Comment proceeding is open until 8 February 2024.

Looking Toward the Future

As we draw the curtains on 2023, we look to 2024 with optimism and dedication. Together, we shall continue to strengthen Africa's Internet infrastructure, increase access, enhance security, and empower all Africans to participate in the digital age.

Thank you to all our partners and supporters for making this journey possible!