(No.61) New gTLD program: an opportunity for development or a mean for more digital divide?

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Workshop Theme: 
Internet Governance for Development [IG4D]
Theme Question: 

Pending Expansion of the Top Level Domain Space: Q1 and 2
Our workshop answered the Q2: What kind of support may be required to help communities, NGOs and business from developing world to participate in the gTLD process? 

Concise Description of Workshop: 

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) launched in January 2012 the new generic Top Level Domains (gTLD) program, consisting in expanding considerably the top level domain space for up to 500 new gTLDs. We will probably see the first strings delegated early next year. This program will transform the Internet landscape by multiplying the number of the generic top level domains by 30, and creating new Internet registries and registrars. It will have an important economic effect that can either positively impact the development of the developing countries, or increase the already existing digital, economic and social divide. The speakers will explain in which case the so called new gTLD program may bring development opportunities to the developing countries’ economy and what are the obstacles that might prevent those countries from the benefit of the economic effect of the top level domain space expansion. Issues such as application and operation cost, community needs, linguistic and cultural diversity, public interest values, related to the new gTLDs program will be addressed. Speakers from all regions around the world are chosen for their high level expertise and interest in the Internet domains. The gender balance issue is also carefully considered.
Agenda   Dowload the PDF file here: https://community.icann.org/download/attachments/34607858/AFRALO+Workshop+Program.pdf?version=1&modificationDate=1351859051181  
09:00     opening address
              Tijani BEN JEMAA, AFRALO Vice-Chair & ALAC Member at ICANN
09:04     New gTLDs: Opportunity or a Challenge for Developing Economy    
             Innovation & Brands
              Zahid JAMIL, Barrister-at-law, member of the GNSO council at ICANN
09:12     Will the new gTLD program reach the developing world?
             Avri DORIA, Researcher at APC & ICANN ALAC new gTLD WG Chair
09:20     (.Africa) experience and Vision for a new gTLD that could have an impact
             on Internet development in Africa
             Mohamed EL-BASHIR, Chair of Dot Africa Steering Committee & Member    
             of the ICANN NomCom
09:28     IDNs and development opportunities
              Hong XUE,  Professor of Law & Director of the Institute of the Internet    
              Policy & Law at Beijing Normal  University (BNU), and ccNSO Councilor
09:36     Opportunities in the Caribbean for new gTLDs
             Dev ANAND TEELUCKSINGH, Director at Trinidad and Tobago Computer    
             Society, and ALAC member at ICANN
09:44     New gTLD Program: Opportunities for the Internet end-users
             Sandra HOFERICHTER, Administrative Coordinator at EuroDIG & Chair of  
             the ICANN Academy Working Group
09:52     New gTLDs:  an opportunity for African users
             Yaovi Atohoun,  IT consultant & ALAC member
10:00     Discussion
10:30     Closing

Organiser(s) Name: 

African Regional At-Large Organization (AFRALO) at Internet Corporation for assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

Submitted Workshop Panelists: 

Mr Tijani BEN JEMAA, FMAI - NGO - Confirmed - Moderator and Rapporteur (Tunisia) Mr Zahid Jamil, Lawyer - Confirmed (Pakistan) Ms Avri DORIA, Teacher and consultant - Confirmed (USA) Mr Dev Anand Teelucksingh, ALAC member from LACRALO - Confirmed (Trinidad & Tobago) Ms Sandra Hoferichter, Civil Society - Confirmed (Germany) Mr Mohamed El Bashir, .africa SteerCom Chair - Confirmed (Qatar) Ms Hong Xue, Teacher and Lawyer - Confirmed (China) Mr Yaovi Atohoun, IT Consultant - Confirmed (Benin) 

Name of Remote Moderator(s): 
Olivier Crépin Leblond, - (France)
Gender Report Card
Please estimate the overall number of women participants present at the session: 
About half of the participants were women
Reported by: 
A brief substantive summary and the main issues that were raised: 

The ICANN AFRALO workshop focused on the new generic Top Level Domain (new gTLD), and the question was: will the new gTLD program be an opportunity for the development or a new mean for more digital divide?
7 panelists from the 5 regions of the world introduced the subject under different angles:

  • Opportunities for developing economy regions
  • The impact that a regional gTLD like dot africa may have on the development in the region
  • Opportunities for development brought by the new IDN gTLDs
  • Opportunities in the Caribbean islands
  • Opportunities for the Internet end-users in various region

All the speakers recognized that the new gTLD program, at least for its first round cannot be considered as an opportunity for the development for various raisons.
They all spoke about the future and what should be done to really make the gTLDs serve the development.
Several suggestions were made such as:

  1. Don't wait for the second round, and make use of the second level of the existing gTLDs or those that will be delegated in the next few months.
  2. Start now preparing for the next roundin terms of:
  • Outreach to raise the awareness
  • Capacity Building
  • Creating an enabling environment for a viable domain industry
  • Engaging with developing country business associations facilitating action on the ground rather than just delivering messages
  • Empowering the ccTLDs in those regions
  • Improving the process for the upcoming rounds.

3.   Another proposal that was very much appreciated in the room was to     conceive a remedial round (before the second one) to be oriented to favor applications from developing economies. 
The panel was made in such a way that regional and gender balances were very well respected:

  • Zahid Jamil                    Man          Pakistan          Asia Pacific region
  • Avri Doria                      Woman      USA                North America region
  • Mohamed El-Bashir         Man           Sudan             Africa
  • Hong Xue                      Woman      China              Asia Pacific region
  • Dev Anand Teelucksingh  Man           Trinidad          Lac region
  • Sandra Hoferichter          Woman      Germany         Europe
  • Yaovi Atohoun               Man           Benin              Africa


Conclusions and further comments: 

The conclusion was to start now preparing for the next round: raising awareness, building capacities, creating enabling environment for sustainable domain name industry in the developing economy regions. In the mean time it was recommanded that the application process should be improved to remove barriers for the applicants from developing countries and poor communities.
Conceiving a remedial round was seen as the necessary step to overcome the result of the first round.