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The ICANN meeting that almost never was

By | March 15th 2010

By Macharia Kamau

Last week Nairobi successfully played host to the Internet community during the 37th Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN), growing Nairobi’s profile as a centre for conference tourism.

This was despite initial fears that terrorists had targeted the event’s venue, Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), for an attack.

The United States State Department had issued a warning to ICANN in early February that KICC had been a target for attack by Somalia’s insurgent group, Al-Shabaab, which almost led to the cancellation of the meeting.

The warning saw ICANN board discuss possibilities of rescheduling the meeting, and even considered looking for alternative venues, which would have dealt a blow to the country, having lost the opportunity to host the Internet community two years ago.

Kenya was supposed to host the meet in 2008, but ICANN withdrew following the post-poll chaos early in the year.

The Kenyan Network Information Centre (Kenic), the local host, said the alert had affected the final preparation plans. Kenic Chairman, Sammy Buruchara, however, said the forum saw minimal cancellations.

"Only two of the ICANN staff out of a total of 65 cancelled their travel to Kenya, and overall only about 100 delegates who had confirmed attendance cancelled," he said.

He added that the organisation had been able to engage local police to provide security and transport for the delegates between the conference centre and their hotels.

Buruchara, however, did not take kindly the insinuation by Americans, and also ICANN, that Kenic, and therefore Kenya could not provide adequate security to such a high level delegation, despite having played host to other delegates attending various forums in the past.

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