The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has launched a groundbreaking Grant Program, earmarking $10 million (approximately KES 1.6 billion) targeting innovators across the world. This initiative is part of a larger global effort by ICANN, which oversees the Domain Name System (DNS), to enhance Internet infrastructure and accessibility worldwide.
The ICANN Grant Program is designed to bolster projects that align with the organization’s vision of a unified, open, and globally interoperable Internet. It emphasizes the importance of developing stable, user-friendly, and secure Internet solutions, particularly focusing on the Internet’s unique identifier systems. The $10 million allocation for Kenya marks the commencement of a series of grants totalling $210 million (around KES 33.6 billion).
This development comes at a time when Internet connectivity is witnessing significant growth globally, especially in developing nations. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) reported that as of 2022, approximately 5.3 billion people worldwide use the Internet, showing a 6.1% increase from 2021. This underscores the growing need for enhanced and secure Internet infrastructure, particularly in fast-evolving markets like Kenya.
Sally Costerton, Interim President and CEO of ICANN, highlighted the criticality of evolving Internet systems in tandem with the rapid advancements in technology, business, and security models. She stated, “The ICANN Grant Program offers a new avenue to further those efforts by investing in projects that are committed to and support ICANN’s vision of a single, open and globally interoperable Internet that fosters inclusion amongst a broad, global community of users.”
The first phase of grant applications will open on March 25, 2024, and close on May 24, 2024. Applicants can find detailed eligibility criteria and further information at the official ICANN website [https://icann.org/grant-program]. After the application period concludes, submissions will undergo thorough checks for admissibility and eligibility. An Independent Application Assessment Panel will then review qualifying applications, with the announcement of the first cycle’s grantees expected in January 2025.
ICANN Grant Program Application process:
- Eligibility Check: Review the eligibility criteria on ICANN’s website: https://icann.org/grant-program to ensure you meet the requirements for the grant.
- Information Gathering: Visit the ICANN Grant Program Applicant Guide on their website for detailed information about the application process. Attend the question-and-answer webinar sessions hosted by ICANN for additional insights and clarifications.
- Application Preparation: Prepare your project proposal that aligns with ICANN’s objectives of fostering an inclusive, transparent, stable, easy-to-use, secure Internet infrastructure. Ensure your project supports the Internet’s unique identifier systems.
- Application Submission: Submit your application through the ICANN website beginning on March 25, 2024. Ensure all required documentation and details are included as per the guidelines.
- Application Deadline: Complete and submit your application before the closing date of May 24, 2024.
- Admissibility and Eligibility Checks: After submission, your application will undergo checks for admissibility and eligibility as per ICANN’s criteria.
- Application Review: An Independent Application Assessment Panel will review admissible and eligible applications.
- Await Announcement: The successful grantees will be announced in January 2025.
To assist potential applicants, ICANN will host multiple question-and-answer webinar sessions in the upcoming months. These sessions aim to provide clarity on the Call for Proposals and offer guidance regarding the application process. The ICANN Grant Program Applicant Guide, available on their website, offers comprehensive details on eligibility and submission requirements, ensuring applicants are well-informed and prepared.
This initiative by ICANN represents a significant opportunity for Kenyan innovators and entrepreneurs to contribute to the evolution and enhancement of the Internet’s infrastructure, marking an exciting chapter in Kenya’s digital advancement journey.