Editor’s Note: This is a Guest Post by Paul Muchene of the iHub Networks Team
The phenomenal success of the Internet as today’s chief communication medium and platform for collaborative sharing and interaction has not been an accident.
There exists core values that have underpinned the Internet’s rise and exponential growth. One of these values is openness. The Internet was and still is designed with an open architecture in mind, this architecture in buttressed by open standards.
Since it’s inception in 1986, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has fostered the development of Internet protocol specifications and has produced a number of high quality drafts and documentation. Internet drafts that have gained traction are codified into a document known as a Request For Comments (RFCs). In IETF lingo, RFCs are the de-facto technical laws by which the Internet requires to function and to function well. Services like E-mail, DNS, IPv4, IPv6… have been extensively defined in numerous RFCs.
Membership to the IETF is open to all. Corporates, academics, government and individual Internet enthusiasts are free to participate in the IETF through joining a working group mailing list. Each working group focuses on eight key specific problem areas such as routing with the intended aim of crafting standards and recommendations.
On 12th May 2012, The first African Internet Standards forum was streamed live from Serekunda in Gambia with remote participation from the iHub. Participants tackled the issue of low African participation in the IETF and what mechanisms can be placed to encourage graduate students, engineers and tech devotees to engage. A panoply of presenters included Michuki Mwangi of the Internet Society( ISOC), Joe Abley of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and Joe Jaeggli of game maker Zynga. They addressed numerous questions from local and remote participants especially questions regarding involvement in the IETF. The forum lasted for over four hours and thirty minutes and was both lively and illuminating.