Infrastructure, Connectivity and Local Content Key for Africa’s Digital Economy

Infrastructure, connectivity, and growth of local content have been identified as key drivers for Africa’s digital economy.

Infrastructure, connectivity, and growth of local content have been identified as key drivers for Africa’s digital economy.

These were the emerging pillars during the 7th edition of the Africa Domain Name System Forum (AFDNS) being held in Bostwana to help the industry grow at a competitive rate and be at par with the world.

Moctar Yedaly, Head of Information Society in the Department of Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union Commission told the participants that five elements of Domain Naming Systems (DNS), a unique number (IP address) for a given name (URL), include: 

A local internet infrastructure, education to enterprises to use the internet aligned with the right policy, making domain names simple and increase of the local content.

Yedaly noted that stakeholders need to engage meaningfully in putting their efforts to building an African digital economy “Making the 21st Century an African Century. Accelerating electrification of the whole continent and digitization of the social-economic sector.”

On the other hand, the Ministry of Communications, Science, and Technology Deputy Permanent Secretary, Alicia Mokone, emphasized that Domain Naming Systems, providing a number (IP address) for a given name (URL),  are crucial for the stable operation of the internet. “The internet plays an important role in the economy and the day to day activities. Therefore it needs to be ubiquitous, needs to be accessible everywhere and needs to ensure the unconnected are connected.”

“If Africa is to enjoy the full benefits of the digital economy, governments need to allow: universal access where broadband and infrastructure should be deployed to all areas; safety and security to ensure integrity and confidence from its users.

She also said it is imperative that relevant online content is available to all end-users.

“As Africa, we need to ensure that we develop appropriate online local content for the benefit of our citizens. Internet as a catalyst for entrepreneurship and  job creation by removing barriers to local business startups and enabling local content creation particularly for the youth.”

She said it was critical for Africans to avoid being consumers and ‘downloaders of internet content.’ 

“We need to strive to create local content in our respective languages. It is estimated that we have over three thousand languages in Africa only when internet content is readily available in these languages, then we can we balance the equation and optimise the economic benefits of the internet,” said Mokone adding that 

“I am afraid we have higher download speeds than upload speeds affirming the fact that we are inherently downloaders and consumers of content. We must make a conscious effort to be creators of the content. We have the capacity. Only when we are equal distributors of content, then we can say we are equal participants in the digital economy,” – Alicia Mokone

Mouhamet Diop, Afregistrar, an association that includes all ICANN Accredited Registrars based in the African Continent, emphasised that there is a need to increase the domain names in the space that enhance the quality of lives for the people. “This is through fair partnerships that can lead to fair DNS in Africa.”

Once this is done, Africa would achieve the goal of its digital strategy whose mission as quoted by Yedaly “By 2030, all our people should be digitally empowered and to access safely and securely up to 6MB per second all the time, where they live in the continent at an affordable price of not ore that  one cent per MB through a smart device manufactured int he continent of not more than USD 100 to access the benefit from all basic e-services and content of which 30% is hosted by Africans.”

The three days annual event brings together stakeholders in the Domain Name Industry in Africa, organized by Africa Top Level Domains Organization (AFTLD), the African Registrars Association, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).