Monday, March 27, 2006


By Rebecca Wanjiku
Internet Corporation for assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) opened its doors to the public in Wellington with particular emphasis on using internet for cultural integration.

In his opening address, Vinton Cerf, ICANN board Chairman, invited participants to develop innovative applications to ensure internet is important to cultures as well as economic growth.

“We need new idea and new applications to create substantial growth and development,” said Cerf.

In the past, Internet has been marketed more as a tool for economic progression and less as a vehicle to preserving culture and social development.

The meeting was officially opened by Hon. David Cunliffe, the minister in charge of communication and Information Technology in New Zealand.

“The principle focus of this meeting will be how improved access to ICTs can assist in regional economic and social development,” said Cunliffe.

The meeting precedes another gathering of communication ministers from the Pacific Island Forum scheduled for March 30th 2006. Cunliffe identified the ICANN meeting as an important forum to small isolated island populations who wish to save their cultural heritage in an increasingly globalised and networked world.

The minister called all governments to participate to participate in internet issues mainly the central coordinating functions that ICANN deals with.

In his speech, he drew parallels with the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) which focused much attention on the need for better access to internet resources by developing countries.

“The New Zealand government welcomes the Tunis Agenda and especially its call for greator online participation from least developed nations,” said Cunliffe.

The thorny question of Internet governance or ownership was also addressed at the opening with Cerf insisting that ICANN does not control internet assets in any way. He maintained that there are new discoveries every day and 99 per cent of internet applications are yet to be developed.

Paul Twomey, ICANN president and Chief Executive Officer also emphasized that the organization merely coordinates various internet functions.

This meeting is expected to further discussions on development of Internationalized Domain Names (IDN), which will allow use of African languages with proper accents on the net.

The issue of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) will be discussed and is expected to shed more light on global policy and allocation.