Click here to download a PDF of the "At-Large Capacity Building Program for AFRALO ALSes Final Report." 

1. Introduction 

The bottom up, multi-stakeholder ICANN system is based on the participation of all stakeholders (governments, private sector, contracted parties and end-users) in the decision-making process. Therefore, African end users, represented in ICANN’s At-Large Community by the African representatives of At-Large Structures (ALSes), must be able to contribute effectively to ICANN’s policy development process. This requires a sound knowledge of ICANN’s structure, policies and policy development process. At the same time, African ALS representatives should be aware of the broader challenges and opportunities related to global governance of the Internet.

An informal survey of AFRALO ALSes taken in 2009 showed that many representatives faced challenges in gaining the necessary level of comprehension of the significant volume of policy-related publications and activities generated by ICANN while they need to contribute to ICANN’s policy development process in an informed manner. The survey also indicated that a lack of understanding of ICANN’s organizational structure was an additional barrier to effective participation in ICANN activities.

Following the publication of this survey, an AFRALO working group produced a document outlining the capacity building needs of AFRALO. This document was adopted by the full membership of AFRALO in July 2009. According to this document, and in order to provide the members of AFRALO with the necessary skills and knowledge needed to effectively contribute to ICANN policies, capacity building requirements include: 

  • To inform and educate AFRALO representatives on ICANN activities
  • To increase the understanding of ICANN policies
  • To establish a communication policy that reflects the realities of the African region.

Thus, it is clear that until AFRALO representatives gain greater knowledge regarding ICANN’s organizational structure, policy-development process and current policies, and develop a regional communications policy, they will continue to remain inactive and marginalized.

The AFRALO meeting held during the ICANN meeting which took place in Seoul in October 2009, resulted in AFRALO representatives agreeing to organize an outreach event during the next ICANN international public meeting that will be held on African soil in Nairobi, Kenya 7-12 March 2010. This meeting was seen to be a very good opportunity to maximize the participation of AFRALO representatives in a series of capacity-building sessions which would inform and train them on ICANN and its processes of policy development.

Because it wasn’t planned in the ICANN budget for that fiscal year, the capacity building training sessions couldn’t be implemented in Nairobi.

The upcoming ICANN meeting in Africa was the 42nd that took place from 23 to 28 October 2011 in Dakar. AFRALO planned to implement the capacity building training sessions there.

2. Objective 

The main objective was to build capacity and raise awareness of ICANN policies, organization and activities to increase the effectiveness of the participation of the African end-users representatives in ICANN’s policy development process. 

Over 5 days of the ICANN meeting in Dakar, the program aimed at providing representatives of AFRALO ALSes with briefings on the key policies, issues, activities and structure of ICANN. These briefings will be conducted by relevant ICANN officers and staff, and allow for open discussion. 

3. Methodology

To achieve this objective, a series of sessions on the policy development process at ICANN were held during the 42nd ICANN meeting. Participants were made of representatives of African ALSes

For the best efficiency, the sessions were organized from Sunday to Thursday early in the morning (From 7 to 9 a.m.) to allow the AFRALO ALS representatives to participate in ICANN meetings in order to apply what they learned during the morning sessions. An additional session (Monday afternoon) was added to cover the whole program outlined below. 

4. Attendees 

Representatives of AFRALO ALSes

5. Expected results

Today, only 24 organizations of African civil society are accredited to participate in the activities of ICANN. Most of them were inactive and thus didn’t have any influence on the decision-making within ICANN. 

After this training:

5.1. The participation of each supported ALS in AFRALO monthly teleconferences, in the public comments issued by ICANN on various topics under discussion, in the working groups and all consultations should be improved to defend the interests of the African end users.

5.2. Each sponsored ALS should also incite at least one other organization of African Internet end-users to become interested in ICANN and seek accreditation to become an AFRALO ALS. 

6. Program

(see PDF)

7. Logistical aspects 

7.1.     Travel support for each participant including airfare, accommodation and per diem

7.2.     A room for 30 persons, equipped with the simultaneous interpretation infrastructure.

7.3.     Interpreters (English and French)

8. Coordination

This operation required the contribution of the At-Large secretariat and Global Partnerships staff.

It also required a dedicated coordinator who worked with the ICANN Meetings staff to coordinate all the logistical aspects. Gisella Gruber, who has African roots, and who is perfectly bilingual was the best choice.

9. Evaluation and conclusions

Evaluation sheets were distributed to all participants to be filled in, session by session, with their evaluation and comments. We can summarize their impressions and recommendations as follows:

  • *Session 1: *Good and necessary introduction, very beneficial
  • *Session 2: *Useful information
  • *Session 3: *Too many acronyms; Very technical issues, difficult to digest by newcomers, useful and helpful for technicians; Good presentations but not pedagogic.
  • *Session 4: *Rich session, useful and satisfactory; needs more time; difficult topics well presented by the experts
  • *Session 5: *Session rich and satisfactory; should be removed to be the second session.
  • *Session 6: *Good presentation of SSAC; It was suitable to have the speakers present for the delivery of the case study exercises; Topics for the case study to be reviewed.

As additional and overall remarks, the ALS representatives think that:

  • The program was beneficial
  • All the presentations should be available to them for reference and better comprehension.
  • Each session should have its own evaluation sheet that the participants fill in and return daily.
  • The participants to such a program should be previously prepared
  • The planning and topics of the program are to be reviewed
  • Better coordination between speakers would avoid redundancies and repetitions
  • More interactivity between speakers and participants would make it more digest and attractive.
  • Such a program should be repeated, not only during the ICANN meetings. 
  • More frequent programs should be implemented online. 

In conclusion, we can say that this first experience was very successful, but needs more refinements.
The presence and punctuality of all participants during the whole program, despite the early start (07:00) can be taken as a sign of great interest.
Their feedback in the evaluation sheets demonstrates that they gained information and knowledge, but they wanted it to be better done for more benefit.
As the aim of the capacity building program is to give the ALS representatives the appetite of participating in the ICANN activities, and more specifically in the policy development process, rather than make them expert of those policies, we would recommend for similar upcoming programs that:

The program should be planned differently so that:

  • The ICANN mission, role in the Internet infrastructure, organizational structure and constituencies should be presented over 2 of the 6 sessions (the first ones).
  • The third session to be dedicated to explain the policy development process.
  • The 4th and 5th sessions to be used to detail 2 main ICANN policies, the most important and most actual (one entire session for each policy)
  • The last session to be a wrap up, a general discussion, with all speakers present
  • The other ICANN policies, as well as the public participation and communication should be addressed online, and using webinars
  • The presentation time should be shortened to allow more interaction (not Q-A) between the speaker and the participants.
  • The presentations should be prepared in a pedagogic manner to be more attractive and well digested (Those of Anne Rachel and Scott were very much appreciated and well understood by all)
  • All the presentations should be available on the wiki at least one week prior to the program start, and remain there for at least 2 months after the completion of the sessions.
  • A good coordination between the speakers will make it a complete end harmonized program
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