Thursday, December 07, 2006

Finding Unity in Diversity

By Rebecca Wanjiku
African participants at Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers(ICANN) meeting in Sao Paulo have formed a unified body that with articulate issues from participants drawn from various sectors.

Africa Regional At Large Organisation (AFRALO) will unite users wishing to articulate their issues to ICANN. AFRALO is expected to link Africa to the global At Large Organisation within ICANN.

Alice Munyua, a member of ICANN´s At Large Organisation says AFRALO will help Africa identify their peculiar issues and call attention to the global body.

¨Through the regional body, African users can identify their challenges and design ways to deal with them. For instance, if the fibre optic cable is laid, then more people can access the internet and then we can deal with other problems other than access,¨said Munyua.

With the growing mobile telephony and cutting edge technology that provides internet via mobile, Munyua says AFRALO will ensure that African voices are heard.

Though not officially launched, preparations of a Memorandum of Understanding are in top gear.

AFRALO is expected to face challenges of language and culture, multiplicity and diversity of digital challenges. Some countries are deemed to have developed ICT infrastructure while others have not.

Munyua expects all countries to meet and point out issues that affect all sectors and the changes they would like to see. The country representatives/ liasons will forward to AFRALO which will then link with the global body.

She recognises that it will be hard to reach consensus because of the diverse interests but she promises AFRALO will work hard to adequately represent african users.
Latin America and the Caribbean have already formed LAC-RALO ( Latin America and the Caribbean Regional At-Large Organisation) which is expected to maximize participation of user groups from the region
Paul Twomey ICANN president, told delegates during the opening ceremony that LAC-RALO will be the third Latin American organisation to help ICANN in its work. The other two are LACTLD (Regional ccTLD managers) and LACNIC (Regional Internet Registry for Latin America ).