Afrinic is he Regional Internet Registry (RIR) for Africa: a non-profit, non-governmental Internet governance organization. Like RIPE, ARIN, APNIC and LACNIC, it operates a record of unique internet protocol (IP) numbers which serve as network addresses. The registry records which organizations have rights to which IP addresses on that continent, and also operates processes for members that establish policies governing the assignment of IP addresses. It was the last RIR to be created and it was late so it only had about 2% of the IPv4 address space, compared to the 40% that was distributed directly to organizations (mainly in North America) before the RIR came into existence. ; 17% in Asia-Pacific; 14% in Europe and North America, and 3.5% in Latin America.
On July 13, Afrinic’s bank accounts were provisionally frozen by court order., paralyzing its operations. Recall, the Supreme Court of Mauritius sanctioned up to 50 million dollars in RIR bank accounts that were frozen as a result of a contractual dispute with Cloud Innovation, a member organization that has been the recipient of the rights to millions of Afrinic IPv4 numbers. The result is a crisis that threatens the viability of one of the regional Internet registries.
Afrinic’s intention to revoke more than 6 million IP addresses from the China-based company, which claims a violation of the policy, backfired, as by taking the issue directly to court, the RIR failed to follow its own policies. internal. As a result, the Supreme Court of Mauritius ordered the freezing of the RIR’s bank accounts, paralyzing its operations. Although due to a court order, Afrinic has restored CI’s IP address blocks on July 15, RIR’s banking assets remain frozen as it continues to operate at reduced capacity.
This crisis raises the question of whether RIR’s IP asset governance policies are sustainable for long-term network growth. Vincentas Grinius, CEO of IPXO, indicates that the consequences of the situation have already had a significant influence on the industry, also emphasizing the precedent to build a unified regional Internet registry (RIR) for greater industry transparency.
Grinius notes that the RIR’s decision seemed rather hasty, given the possible consequences for the region. Additionally, the event highlighted a long-term issue: the lack of standardization of policies, governance of IP addresses and RIR monitoring.
The Internet is reeling in Africa.
“The decision was made without proper risk assessment of how it could affect the region. Furthermore, any ambiguity related to the use of the IP should have been revealed at the beginning of the contract, as any abrupt judgment later on stimulates further confusion. instead of providing solutions, “commented the manager.
“It may have seemed unlikely to some that a party’s decision, coupled with inconsistencies in regulatory standards, could shake up the already established internet ecosystem. However, what we have now is a growing threat not just to businesses. companies operating in the region, but also for the stability of the entire Internet in Africa, “he added.
According to the executive, Afrinic’s current division in IP resource governance policies does not support stability or transparency in the industry, nor can it match its growth. The problem is rooted in the fundamentals: each registry, including Afrinic, has its own specific set of policies that govern its set of resources.
“The business landscape is evolving at an incredible rate. As the community is behind the development of regulatory policies, it should also aim to be more active in adjusting them to meet modern requirements,” Grinius explained. “For example, Afrinic does not yet have inter-RIR transfer, which allows moving IP resources between registries; other RIRs have configured it a while ago.”
“From a business point of view, unifying Internet registry policies will be a powerful solution for companies experiencing IP shortage issues. But it is of greater importance to the industry as a whole, as it will bring more transparency and responsibility “, he concludes.