Project Update

Monday 3 July 2023

Coalition for Digital Africa Kicks Off DNSSEC Roadshows

Yazid Akanho, Technical Engagement Senior Specialist, ICANN

Coalition for Digital Africa Kicks Off DNSSEC Roadshows

The Coalition for Digital Africa is encouraging the adoption of Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) with roadshows in select African countries. The goal of the project is to promote the implementation and deployment of DNSSEC among DNS operators, registries, and registrars. The project aims to create a safer online environment for businesses and individuals by enhancing the security of country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). 

DNSSEC plays a crucial role in strengthening authentication in the DNS by using digital signatures based on a public key that adds data origin authentication and integrity protection. By incorporating DNSSEC, this initiative contributes to the overall security of the DNS and Internet infrastructure in Africa. 

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in collaboration with the African Telecommunications Union leads the project. The primary objectives of it – one of seven initiatives launched by the Coalition for Digital Africa over the last year – are to build awareness and understanding of the importance of the DNSSEC, and increase its adoption and deployment among network operators across Africa. 

At the forefront of the effort are capacity development and training sessions called “deployathons.” These five-day workshops provide intensive hands-on training and will be conducted in at least 15 countries in Africa over the next three years.

To ensure the successful implementation of DNSSEC, the Coalition for Digital Africa recently enlisted two consultants to support and provide guidance to selected ccTLDs in deploying DNSSEC. These consultants will also engage with Internet Service Providers and network operators in the respective countries to encourage them to  enable DNSSEC validation in their resolvers.

The project started this month with two ccTLDs: .BF (Burkina Faso) and .BW (Botswana). The initial assessment of the two ccTLDs has already started. In Botswana a deployathon event was held in early June with a strong support from the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority, which oversees the .BW ccTLD management. 

In Burkina Faso, a deployathon is planned for the second week of July. Subsequently, a deployment plan will be developed for the two ccTLD registries in the region that will outline the necessary steps and strategies to effectively integrate DNSSEC. A consultant will also provide the local team all the support needed to get the plan implemented.

As the project progresses, we plan to develop a DNSSEC resource portal tailored to Africa DNS operators, providing them with valuable information and resources to support their DNSSEC implementation and adoption journeys. It will feature lessons learned, documentation templates, guidebooks (such as  the DNSSEC deployment guidebook (OCTO 029) published by the ICANN Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO)). We look forward to working with the identified countries to increase ccTLDs DNSSEC signing and adoption in the region. 

Conceived by ICANN, the Coalition for Digital Africa is an alliance of like-minded organizations committed to building a robust and secure Internet infrastructure to bring more Africans online.