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ICANN’s first Africa regional office opens in Kenya

 The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has opened its first African regional engagement office in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

ICANN made this disclosure at a press briefing at bilateral engagements with the ICT Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Joe Mucheru.

Also present at the ceremony include Tarek Kamel, Senior Advisor to the President and Senior Vice President, Government and IGOs Engagement, Sally Costerton, Senior Advisor to The President & Senior Vice President, Global Stakeholder Engagement, and Pierre Dandjinou, VP Global Stakeholder Engagement for Africa.

The office located on 17th Floor of ICEA building was officially unveiled at an event at the Intercontinental Hotel, with various industry stakeholders present to witness the momentous occasion.

The choice by ICANN to select Kenya as its African home is a stamp of approval to Kenya’s increasingly important role in the Internet ecosystem. The regional presence will further deepen ICANN’s engagement with African Governments as well as the private sector players.

Statistics by Communications Authority estimate that Kenya’s mobile phone penetration stands at over 88% while Internet penetration stands at 82.6 per cent, reaching about 35.5 million people making Kenya among the most connected population in the world. Kenya also boasts as one of the most active online populations on the continent with users increasing every day. The growing reach of the Internet coupled with the rapid spread of mobile phones and the wide diffusion of social media have immensely contributed to Kenya’s socio-economic development growth.

ICANN is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on Internet. Through its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it does have an important impact on the global expansion and evolution of the Internet.

Speaking at the launch, ICT Cabinet Secretary Mr. Joe Mucheru, said that the government of Kenya recognizes and supports the efforts made by ICANN in ensuring the growth and development of Internet.

“Kenya has continued to work with regional bodies towards the growth of the Internet use in Africa and we are glad to have ICANN make Nairobi its first engagement office location for Africa. We believe that collaboration with ICANN will encourage investors in ICT to provide services from the Kenyan cyberspace through the hosting of root servers, Data centers, cloud services among others.” Mucheru said.

Communications Authority of Kenya chairman Mr. Ngene Gituku said ICANN’s regional presence in Africa and its choice of Kenya is a big boost to the ICT sector and further reasserts Kenya’s position as an ICT powerhouse.

“As a regulator of the industry we are delighted that Kenya has been chosen to take a front row seat in matters of Internet policy. We are also glad that stakeholders across Africa will congregate here to help set and drive the ICT agenda for the continent. I therefore call upon the various actors in this space to join hands so that our synergies can lead to a better, safer ICT sector in Kenya and Africa at large,” said Mr. Gituku.

“We are excited about this new phase for ICANN in Africa with the opening of our first engagement office in the region, here in Nairobi. Moreover, we are very thankful to the Kenyan Government and the community for their amazing support. Over the past three years, there has been much effort, dedication and goodwill from the community and ICANN staff in the implementation of the Africa Strategy,” said Sally Costerton, Senior Advisor to the President & Senior Vice President, Global Stakeholder Engagement.

“In March this year, during ICANN55 in Morocco, the ICANN board of directors and senior leadership announced the opening of the first ICANN engagement office in Africa. This is an important moment for us, as we increase our institutional engagement and outreach in Africa, to better serve the region,” Costerton said.

ICANN follows a multi-stakeholder model in which individuals; non-commercial stakeholder groups, industry, and governments play important roles in its community-based, consensus-driven, internet policy-making approach. Its headquarters is based in Los Angeles, California USA, with two operational hubs in Istanbul, Turkey and Singapore. In addition to engagement offices in Beijing, Brussels, Geneva, Montevideo, Seoul, Washington, D.C and today Nairobi, Kenya to afford wider reach and accessibility.

Meanwhile, Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) has commended The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the opening of ICANN’s first Engagement Office in Africa.

NiRA delegates were in attendance at the ICANN 55 meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, when the announcement was made by Steve Crocker, ICANN Board Chair.

Rev Sunday Folayan, NiRA’s President, said, “ICANN’s Nairobi office will act as the organisation’s foothold in Africa and be focused on championing Institutional engagement with Stakeholders, including Governments, Civil societies, Technical and Academic Institutions. NiRA applauds the decision and has observed ICANN’s intent on becoming increasingly international in terms of its outlook, policies and the composition of its community. We at NiRA believe that the opening of this local office in Africa should create a more level playing ground for Africans”.

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