(Published by Daily Nation on Tuesday December 29, 2015  http://www.nation.co.ke/lifestyle/smartcompany/Why-uptake-of-Internet-remains-lowest-in-Africa/-/1226/3012662/-/hv2mkk/-/index.html)

In the first week of December, an important meeting, the AFRINIC 23 took place in Pointe Noire, Congo-Brazzaville, to discuss Internet Number resources policies in Africa. AFRINIC, short for Africa Network Information Center is the Regional Internet Registry responsible for issuing unique identifies called Internet Protocol (IP) Addresses to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other enterprises across Africa. AFRINIC has among its members’ banks, academic institutions, governments, ISPs, and other business enterprises. The ISPs consequently assign the IP blocks to their customers. IP addresses are the numbers used by computers to communicate with each other on the Internet. An easier analogy for an IP address is the unique phone numbers we use to communicate with others.

At the AFRINIC meeting on Pointe Noire, one thing struck me. Congo is an Oil producing country, but for the whole week, the city was in lockdown. There was no fuel in petrol stations. Apparently two oil refineries had closed down for maintenance at the same time. The impact on the local businesses was obvious. There was little to no movement of goods and people; hotels were empty and streets were empty too. The economy was at a total standstill. I could see how lack of a commodity cans stifle an economy.

Parallel that on what happens when a large part of our population has no access to the Internet. They cannot communicate with the rest of the world, buy and sell goods and services to larger global markets, and get information when they need it.

AFRINIC is a member based organization, with a total of 1291 members. Of that, South Africa leads the pack with 309 (24%), Nigeria with 148 (11%) and Kenya 84 (7%), with Egypt, Ghana, Tanzania, and Angola following the leaders. The others 47 countries take up the remaining 41%. It is easy to postulate that there is a co-relation between AFRINIC membership, Internet penetration, and economic prosperity. Kenya has done really well compared to other countries, but there is room for improvement in growing AFRINIC membership. We cannot afford to sit down pretty while a country like South Africa has 4 times more members. We must consolidate our position as leaders of ICT uptake in Africa.

Why would anybody want to be an AFRINIC member? Membership translates to allocation of Internet number resources (IPs). Assuming that issued resources translate to more devices connected to the Internet, more Internet related businesses will be built and therefore we will have more people have access to the internet. Time and time again, research has shown that internet penetration is tied to economic development. One such study by Deloitte found that when developing countries expand Internet access to the level of developed countries, it would cut extreme poverty by 28%, reduce infant mortality, increase literacy rates, and create millions of jobs.

Over the years, there have been complains from end users on allocation of IP addresses by ISPs. You could request a block of IP addresses for use in your business operations but the ISPs would probably give you an allocation that is not enough to run your operations, or they would charge an arm and a leg. Most organizations remained with a stifled ICT infrastructure.  Some businesses got the hint and became members of AFRINIC where they get as much resources as they need, and by only paying a membership fee of as little as $200 per year and a onetime resource allocation fee. The ignorance by the masses has had profound mark on our society, very few Internet footprints in Africa, and non-depleted IPv4 in the African continent, while a continent like North America has eclipsed us by usage of these resources a hundred times over.

AFRINIC now has more than 50million IPv4 addresses and virtually unlimited IPv6 addresses for our use. IPv4, the most used version of IP has depleted in all regions of the world apart from Africa. Although this is a story for another day, I would urge our businesses to apply to get the resources before the west raid our unallocated surplus addresses for legacy deployments.

If you are an organization with huge public address needs, and your ISP is a roadblock to achieving your ICT strategy, it is highly recommended you get your IP block directly from source by visiting the website afrinic.net. If you don’t have the time or human resources, you can get an IP strategy consultant to manage your resource allocation and mapping.

twitter: @lordmwesh

 


Net Neutrality and Zero Rating was the trending topic in this year’s 2015 IGF in Brazil. People took sides depending on their interests. For example, a research in Asia revealed that zero rated services were an entry point for people who had no access to Internet, and those who used zero rated services went on and converted to paid users after seeing the benefits of the Internet. Another research shows that people don’t use the Internet not because of the cost, but because they don’t need it. Weird conclusion I can say. And some interesting facts is, in communities where zero rated services were the norm, the users did not know the difference between the Internet and Facebook. That is a major problem if you ask me. Another research that Mozilla Foundation was involved in found that when users are given Internet bundles, they accessed diverse types of websites, not just FB and Wikipedia. But the big question was, who funded these types of research? An interested party would of course ensure research results are tilted to their interests.

All that not withstanding, we should pay keen interests to the following points,
1. Zero rating is illegal in most of Europe,  And USA. Even in Brazil, zero rating is not acceptable. Ask yourself why.
2. Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) is a regulator and not a policy maker. Without policy on Net Neutrality, they have nothing to enforce thus leaving market players to their own devices, including abuse. Us the community, in an all inclusive manner should develop a Net Neutrality policy that can be adopted.
3. CA are usually given targets to ensure universal coverage of communication services. I am sure they are very happy to maintain the status quo since they will report zero rated services as a metric of increased access. This will be a big lie because they will have denied the rural folks access to the Internet. We all know one website is not the Internet. The best practice is to have the regulator pressure telcos increase rollout in under-served regions as part of their Universal Service obligations.
4. Zero rating infringes on fundamental human rights by denying users access to the Internet. It may be a conspiracy to keep developing countries in the darkness of the information age. Refer to point 1 above.
5. Let us advocate for universal coverage, better utilisation of USF, telecommunication infrastructure sharing, increased road coverage, accessible wayleaves and cable ducts,  and affordable energy. All these will ensure the COST of internet comes down to a level where every citizen can afford.
6. Countries with no proper access to the Internet will find it difficult to participate in the Internet Economy. And isn’t the entire world now an Internet economy?

There is more, but these points are what comes to mind.


“The [below] speech which shows the real intention of the Christian missionary journey in Africa was exposed to the world by Mr. Moukouani Muikwani Bukoko,  born in the Congo in 1915, and who in 1935 while working in the Congo, bought a second hand Bible from a Belgian priest who forgot the speech in the Bible.” —  Dr. Chiedozie Okoro

Letter from King Leopold II of Belgium to Colonial Missionaries, 1883
The letter which follows is Courtesy of Dr. Vera Nobles and Dr. Chiedozie Okoro.

“Reverends, Fathers and Dear Compatriots: The task that is given to fulfill is very delicate and requires much tact.  You will go certainly to evangelize, but your  evangelization must inspire above all Belgium interests.  Your principal objective in our mission in the Congo is never to teach the niggers to know God, this they  know already.  They speak and submit to a Mungu, one Nzambi, one Nzakomba, and what else I don’t know.  They know that to kill, to sleep with someone else’s  wife, to lie and to insult is bad.  Have courage to admit it; you are not going to teach them what they know already.  Your essential role is to facilitate the task of  administrators and industrials, which means you will go to interpret the gospel in the way it will be the best to protect your interests in that part of the world.  For these  things, you have to keep watch on disinteresting our savages from the richness that is plenty [in their underground. To avoid that, they get interested in it, and make  you murderous] competition and dream one day to overthrow you.

Your knowledge of the gospel will allow you to find texts ordering, and encouraging your followers to love poverty, like “Happier are the poor because they will  inherit the heaven” and, “It’s very difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.”  You have to detach from them and make them disrespect everything which gives  courage to affront us.  I make reference to their Mystic System and their war fetish-warfare protection-which they pretend not to want to abandon, and you must do  everything in your power to make it disappear.

Your action will be directed essentially to the younger ones, for they won’t revolt when the recommendation of the priest is contradictory to their parent’s teachings.   The children have to learn to obey what the missionary recommends, who is the father of their soul.  You must singularly insist on their total submission and  obedience, avoid developing the spirit in the schools, teach students to read and not to reason.  There, dear patriots, are some of the principles that you must apply.   You will find many other books, which will be given to you at the end of this conference.  Evangelize the niggers so that they stay forever in submission to the white  colonialists, so they never revolt against the restraints they are undergoing.  Recite every day-“Happy are those who are weeping because the kingdom of God is for  them.”

Convert always the blacks by using the whip.  Keep their women in nine months of submission to work freely for us.  Force them to pay you in sign of  recognition-goats, chicken or eggs-every time you visit their villages. And make sure that niggers never become rich.  Sing every day that it’s impossible for the rich to  enter heaven.  Make them pay tax each week at Sunday mass. Use the money supposed for the poor, to build flourishing business centres.  Institute a confessional  system, which allows you to be good detectives denouncing any black that has a different consciousness contrary to that of the decision-maker.  Teach the niggers to  forget their heroes and to adore only ours.  Never present a chair to a black that comes to visit you.  Don’t give him more than one cigarette.  Never invite him for  dinner even if he gives you a chicken every time you arrive at his house.

“The above speech which shows the real intention of the Christian missionary journey in Africa was exposed to the world by Mr. Moukouani Muikwani Bukoko,  born in the Congo in 1915, and who in 1935 while working in the Congo, bought a second hand Bible from a Belgian priest who forgot the speech in the Bible. —  Dr. Chiedozie Okoro

Source:http://www.africawithin.com/chinweizu/trouble_with_africa.htm

[More information on this letter on that website.]


My reason for joining toastmasters was to speak like Obama, really. And of course increase my prospects in life.

I’m currently working on short assignment as a Google Policy Fellow researching on cyber laws in Kenya.

I’m a pure African. This reality was more apparent when elderly men poured libation invoking the living dead to appease them during my traditional marriage ceremony.

In my career, I’ve worn many hats both tech and policy related. I’m a techie to the bone, a networking expert, computer engineer, system administrator, and a programmer. I’m also an entrepreneur not finical about business but doing everything from roads construction to farming. Anything legal and ethical that would place food on the table.

I came into the computing field by accident. At the turn of the century after finishing high school, I wanted to be a psychiatrist, but my parents, would not have anything to do with it. They instead opted me in a computer college at the Egerton University. Computing was the in thing then. I’ve never looked back since. And I enjoy the profession immensely.

I’m recognized as a change agent within my society because of the zeal and passion shown while advocating for issues of social justice and inclusiveness. I’ve had leadership positions in several Internet related organisations both in Kenya and regionally. I’m currently the East African representative for Africa Civil Society on Information Society.

My Philosophy is always to be over optimistic in life. While partying in one of the beach hotels in Durban along the Indian Ocean, one Venezuelan shared a story on how life was always serving him lemons, and how poor his background was. To console him and give him hope, I told him of a story of a black boy born in a society that despised black people, brought up by a single parent having been fathered by a foreigner. Despite having been brought up in a Muslim background and having his middle name as Hussein, the boy went forth to get the best education, joined civil activism and politics, and after many failures and dusting himself up, he became the first black man elected as president of the United States and arguably the most powerful man. Everybody has a chance in life, as Lupita would phrase it, “no matter where you come from, your dreams are valid”. My Venezuelan friend’s eyes welled with tears from the illustration as he exclaimed “I will also work hard and be successful ”

I have always wanted to write a book, before thirty, like Adichie, Binyavanga, or Chenua. A feat I will never achieve since I’m thirty no more.

I’ve been to all continents of the world outside the Arctics, but never got a chance to sire little Obamas there.

When addressing a crowd, even if it’s a small crowd around a table, my thought pattern would disintegrate from the deep stare of the audience. I would be drawn into a momentary state of inertia, and I hope that will change from observing fellow toastmasters who have mastered the art of public speaking.

My reason for joining toastmasters was to speak like Obama, really. And of course increase my prospects in life.

Mr/ Madam Toastmaster


In May 2015, ICANN President and CEO Fadi  Chehadé announced his intention to resign from his position before end of his tenure. Although this shocked the ICANN community, it should be viewed as a good thing to have a new CEO post IANA functions transition.
Over the few years, ICANN has put concerted effort to internationalize itself, appear to be a legitimate global organisation. This has led to ICANN setting up engagement offices and  hubs across Europe, Asia, North and South America, which is commendable.
For ICANN to appear serious with the Internationalization attempts, and for the U.S Government to demonstrate commitment that it is transitioning IANA functions to the International Multistakeholder community outside U.S control, it would be important for the board to show committed to appointing a CEO outside US while still maintaining the quality and traits needed.

 


What is Net Neutrality? A popular defination is “Net Nutrality is the principle that Internet service providers should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.

Net neutrality is a new and fuzzy area for most developing countries. There is no policy on Net Neutrality in most of them. Leaving such critical policies to self-regulation is a recipe for chaos where one day citizens will be taken hostage by ISPs. The ISPs can change their business model and lease data super highways to the highest bidders. This is not something new, it has happened elsewhere. The US on demand video streaming company Netflix, and Comcast, one of the leading ISPs had an unholy union where they signed an agreement for Comcast to offer preferential treatment to Netflix data, thus offering Netflix customers’ faster speeds. This in essence would stifle the completion.

Another popular case of Net Neutrality was when Google started paying Orange for using Orange’s infrastructure to reach the Africa Market.  The argument by Orange was, they have made substantial investment in infrastructure in Africa while Google have the majority of users consuming the resource through different services (Youtube, Gmail, google.com, Android store).  Orange took this advantage because there is virtually no Net Neutrality laws in Africa.

Simply put, without Net Neutrality, the carrier sets toll stations for the data providers to pay before passing through. Since Orange and Google has setup the precedence, how can we be sure others will not follow suite?


John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)
It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.
 
The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a WALL!”
The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, “Ho, what have we here,
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a SPEAR!”
 
The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a SNAKE!”
 
The Fourth reached out an eager hand, 
And felt about the knee
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” quoth he:
“‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a TREE!”
 
The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a FAN!”
 
The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
Is very like a ROPE!”
 
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!