Africa’s Regional Internet Registry Under Receivership

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The African Network Information Centre (Afrinic), Africa’s Regional Internet Registry has been placed under receivership with board elections expected to be held in six months. This follows a ruling by the Supreme Court of Mauritius on a case filed against the internet registry by Cloud Innovation, an IP Address management company.

Afrinic is a non-profit organization headquartered in Mauritius responsible for the distribution and management of Internet numbers including Internet Protocol (IP) addresses (IPv4 and IPv6) and the Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs) for Africa and the Indian Ocean Region.

Afrinic vs Cloud Innovation

The registry’s row with Cloud Innovation started in 2020 after the internet registry claimed the company was in breach of its registration service agreement (RSA).

According to Afrinic, the IP address management company no longer used its IP address blocks issued for purposes originally applied for as well records provided for the IP address blocks by the company were inconsistent with its use. Additionally, the majority of the IP address space was used outside of Africa.

This prompted Cloud Innovation to file for an injunction with the Supreme Court of Mauritius in addition to responding to Afrinic’s allegations. With the application set aside for July 7, 2021, the internet registry revoked Cloud Innovation’s membership and moved to confiscate its IP address blocks.

Consequently, Cloud Innovation filed for an urgent injunction against this move by the registry which saw its IP address resources restored and membership reinstated. It further sued for damages which led to Afrinic’s bank accounts frozen of amounts up to $50 million.

On March 15, 2023, Cloud Innovation filed another case with the Supreme Court of Mauritius against Afrinic seeking the appointment of a receiver.

The Supreme Court of Mauritius’ latest ruling

Cloud Innovation won the case filed in March this year with the Supreme Court of Mauritius stating the receiver’s role is maintaining the “status quo of Afrinic and preserving the value of the business”. The ruling further adds the receiver’s mandate is tasked with overseeing the election process to constitute a new board and CEO.

The Official Receiver appointed is Mr. Vasoodayven Virasami of the Insolvency Service of Mauritius office, with parties concerned welcoming the ruling. While speaking with Capacity Media, Virasami explained that the order is not a liquidation order rather, his mandate will be to establish a new board and CEO.

The Number Resource Organization (NRO), the coordinating entity for the world’s Regional Internet Registries, has released a statement in support of the recent developments. The body has further expressed its hopes that the move will help restore order and stability at the registry.

Part of the statement reads, “With successful execution, these developments will restore AFRINIC to functional governance with the election of an Executive Board and appointment of a CEO.”

Lu Cheng, CEO of Cloud Innovation, has also welcomed the move adding that it will help provide stability to Afrinic.

The ruling has issued a six-month deadline to carry out the elections starting from September 12, 2023. An extension may be provided by the court.