What is AFRINIC? The role and challenges of the African Regional Internet Registry

  • AFRINIC, based in Mauritius, manages Internet resources in Africa, overseeing fair allocation of IPv4/IPv6 addresses. It promotes digital inclusion and network stability through strategic resource management.
  • AFRINIC entered receivership due to a Mauritius Supreme Court decision granting a “crippling injunction” following legal disputes and multiple court judgments, highlighting ongoing challenges faced by the organization.

The widespread adoption of the Internet has become a crucial factor driving economic and social development. The equitable allocation and management of Internet resources are essential to ensure the sustainability and stability of the network. AFRINIC (African Network Information Centre), serving as the Internet resource management organization for the African region, plays a pivotal role in promoting Internet development, supporting the construction of network infrastructure, and maintaining the availability of the network.

Also read: What is APNIC? Inside the backbone of Asia’s internet

Functions of AFRINIC

Established in 2004 and headquartered in Mauritius, AFRINIC (African Network Information Centre) plays a pivotal role in managing and distributing Internet resources across Africa. It oversees the allocation of IPv4 and IPv6 address spaces, as well as Autonomous System (AS) numbers, ensuring fair distribution among diverse organizations. This strategic allocation prevents address shortages and supports the sustainable development of networks throughout the continent.

In addition to its resource allocation functions, AFRINIC is committed to enhancing technical proficiency in Africa. Through training sessions, workshops, and educational programs, the organization contributes to the development of a skilled workforce, fostering innovation and expertise in Internet technology.

Internationally, AFRINIC actively engages in shaping global Internet governance standards and policies. Through participation in international forums, AFRINIC advocates for African representation, safeguarding regional interests and ensuring a meaningful contribution to the evolving landscape of global Internet governance.


AFRINIC’s role in Internet

AFRINIC plays a crucial role in promoting digital inclusion in the African region. Through effective management of internet resources, the organization works towards ensuring that more communities and businesses gain access to the internet. This strategic approach contributes to reducing the digital divide and fostering sustainable economic and social development across the continent.

In addition to its efforts in digital inclusion, AFRINIC also focuses on ensuring the stability and reliability of networks in Africa. By efficiently managing the allocation of internet resources, the organization helps prevent network congestion and address shortages. This proactive approach enhances the overall efficiency of the region’s networks, contributing to a more robust and reliable internet infrastructure.

Furthermore, AFRINIC supports innovation and technological development by providing valuable training and education opportunities. This initiative empowers internet professionals in Africa, fostering a conducive environment for innovation and driving advancements in technology. The organization’s commitment to developing human capital in the internet sector contributes to elevating the region’s competitiveness in the global digital landscape.

AFRINIC enters receivership after Mauritius Court’s ‘crippling injunction’

Afrinic, the organization responsible for managing internet resources in Africa and the Indian Ocean region, has gone into receivership following a significant legal setback in the highest court of Mauritius. In this legal dispute, a South African firm secured a “crippling injunction.”

AFRINIC’s mandate involves the oversight of IP addresses in the specified region. The Mauritian Supreme Court’s decision is viewed positively by industry stakeholders, as it paves the way for the restructuring of AFRINIC’s troubled board and the appointment of a new CEO. This move follows a series of warnings that Afrinic is alleged to have disregarded, resulting in multiple court judgments.It is noteworthy that Afrinic has become embroiled in over 55 court cases since June 2020, indicating a sustained period of grappling with legal challenges and disputes.

ICANN’s Africa DNS report barely mentions the AFRINIC problem

In December 2023, ICANN invited comments on the final draft of its study into the state of the domain name industry in Africa, which aims to identify the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for growth in the sector.

The nearly 200-page report, available for your own viewing here and put together by Powersoft Africa as part of an initiative under the Coalition for Digital Africa, goes into great detail regarding the current state of the African DNS landscape, its key features, its growth successes and limitations, and argues that a trial DNS Observatory would be a significant tool in tracking growth trends in domains, websites and DNSSEC.

Also read: ICANN’s Africa DNS report barely mentions the AFRINIC problem

However, perhaps the most destabilising event of the past year in the market was the removal of the board of the African Regional Internet Registry, AFRINIC, and it is given barely a passing mention. Relegated to a single paragraph – 83 words – halfway through the report, it would seem this is a gross oversight if indeed the report is meant to identify potential weaknesses and opportunities for improvement in the market.


ICANN Africa DNS Report comment on AFRINIC

“Unfortunately, AFRINIC’s institutional management is going through difficulties at present, where it is without a CEO or a quorum on its Board. In September 2023 a court formally appointed the Official Receiver of Mauritius to maintain the status quo of AFRINIC, which is under receivership at present, with the mandate to hold elections within six months. ICANN is continuing to closely monitor the situation and aims to provide whatever support the Official Receiver requests to restore AFRINIC’s functional governance, long-term stability, and operations,” the report says.

And with that, the report moves onto other topics.

Also read: AFRINIC elections to be held within 6 months

ICANN is fully aware of the importance of AFRNIC for the stability of the registration database for the region. In its short review of 2023, the AFRNIC situation was named as one of its 13 key goals, where it stated: “ICANN remains committed to the long-term viability of the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) system, including providing the Official Receiver previously appointed by the courts in Mauritius with a neutral and expert observer. John Crain, ICANN Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, was on the ground in Mauritius in September to support this work. Though further court filings have removed the Official Receiver from service for now, ICANN org maintains its readiness to offer expertise in support of the RIR system. We also are in close communication with the leadership of the other RIRs, which has greatly improved our coordination in monitoring the African Network Information Centre situation.”


Ivy Wu

Ivy Wu was a media reporter at btw media. She graduated from Korea University with a major in media and communication, and has rich experience in reporting and news writing.

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