Brazil renews commitment to train Africa TLD managers

NAIROBI, KENYA – Brazil has renewed its commitment to training Africa’s TLD (top-level domain) managers after successful training in Angola, Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sudan, Togo, and Uganda have all expressed interest in the training, said Hartmut Glaser, who founded the training program.

The software required for the training is open source and easy to maintain, making for inexpensive deployment, Glaser said.

Moreover, he said, Brazil is exploring ways to conduct training in Africa by bringing 10 countries together in one location on the continent and sending a trainer there, rather than requiring African TLD managers to travel to Brazil.

Most of Africa’s country code TLDs are run from Europe and North America, but it is very easy to set up infrastructure in African countries, noted Michuki Mwangi, who was the first beneficiary of the training program and the former manager for the .ke domain name.

“The technical part is not hard; the people part is the challenge,” Michuki said. “It is very hard to get government or university officials to approve some of these issues.”

“It took the Tanzanian team three months to get approval for their travel,” Glaser added. “Decision making can take long, but Brazil is always open.

Because of perceived lack of technical ability, some of Africa’s country code TLD management has been outsourced to companies like Afilias and Verisign, but that can be avoided, Michuki said.

“For instance, if the domain is managed externally, there is no skills transfer through training of engineers, and the percentage of the fees is paid to the external managers,” he argued.

While Glaser admitted that he is not an expert in African affairs, he argued that Africa is suffering from a lack of competitiveness in paying for employed technical experts, an issue that affected Brazil years back.

“There is need to attract the people living in diaspora so that they can repatriate the skills,” said Glaser. “Brazil is willing to work with Africa because we understand the challenges faced.”

Apart from encouraging technical expertise, Glaser underscored the need to market the domains to the population as a way to promote patriotism and loyalty.

There are 1.5 million .br domains in Brazil; 92 percent of those are using, and the others are universities, government agencies and other entities, Glaser revealed. Brazil now has the sixth-highest number of domains after China, Germany, the U.K., Holland and the U.S., he said.

“The domain has to be marketed as a country identity,” Glaser said, “the way one carries a flag or sings the national anthem with pride.”

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