I must start this with a disclaimer, and state clearly that what follows are my own personal views and are not necessarily representative of any organisation to which I am affiliated.
By now, most of the world is aware of the legal issues AfriNIC is having, and I firmly believe that the legal issues must be resolved in the courts of law rather than the courts of public opinion and on mailing lists, and so, in no way does anything that I write here to express a view on who is correct or incorrect in the ongoing legal disputes.
I, however, want to focus on some more fundamental issues — the current structure of AfriNIC, and what may be a more fundamental source of the problems we have seen consistently for the last few years.
The organization right now is divided — and it is not divided on issues of technical merit around policy, or even issues of strategic importance. Instead, what seems clear from reading post after post on the lists is that the divide is driven by factionalism based on regionalization. One region opposing another for no other reason than its not in the same region, or because the person being opposed does not speak the same language as the opposer etc.
I do not believe that I, or anyone else, have a solution to all geopolitical/linguistic conflict that arises — these things take time, however, I do believe that we need to examine this issue closely, and it starts with the organizational structure.
Right now — AfriNIC is the only RIR in the world that divides its elections by region — and nominates and appoints its board based on regional representation. Now, it may be argued that this was done to ensure equitable representation across the continent — but in reality — it is codifying our divides, and can in some case lead to issues finding the best candidate for the job.
We need to consider that the job of a board member is not to support a particular demographic — it is to run a company. It is to ensure that the company follows good corporate governance, that its finances are stable, that fiduciary duty is being adhered to, and that the member’s needs, irrespective of where the member is located on the continent are the top priority of the board.
If we wish to truly take our place on the global stage — we, as Africans, need to embrace the fact that we are African — and present the world a united face, rather than founded in divides that have been codified into our very bylaws. What we have right now is not a single RIR — it is an attempt to have four RIR’s under one umbrella for the sake of political nicety. We must organize ourselves as one entity (AfriNIC) to serve the entire region if we are to avoid behaving as 4 different ones, EASTnic — WESTnic — SOUTHnic — NORTHnic. We need to decide because unless we have addressed our divides and come together as one continent — one organization — in both spirit and letter of our bylaws — we will continue to tear ourselves apart and that will lead to inevitable collapse.
We need to appoint our board members based on business experience — boards are not run by political nicety — they are run by skills — legal, strategic, financial, business skills. Boards should be made up of experienced executives who understand business. The operational aspects of the company should then be left to the staff, who should be following the policies as defined and put forward by a united policy development body.
And so — with these few words — I am appealing to all the citizens of this continent that I love so dearly, let us end our divides, and start by scrapping the structures that divide us through their codification in bylaws. Let us promote skill, and gender equality, such that that lifts us up as a continent, rather than promoting factionalism and divides.
In due course, special resolutions will be put forward to propose restructuring the election process to remove the geographic representation and replace it with skills and gender representation. I urge all AfriNIC members when this happens to support it so that we can be one RIR, one continent, common purpose, for the good of Africa.
These are my thoughts, and I hope that any discussion of the above text will focus on the text, focus on the message, and prove that we can indeed act as one, as a united, unified Africa able to engage in robust political discussion about our united future.