Exclusive: Afrinic placed in receivership, board elections to be held in six months

Exclusive: Afrinic placed in receivership, board elections to be held in six months

IP Network.jpg

A Mauritius court yesterday ruled that Afrinic (African Network Information Centre), the regional Internet registry (RIR) for Africa would be placed into receivership.

The ruling comes following a court case served against Afrinic by Cloud Innovation, a company that specialises in IP Address Management, on March 15th 2023.

The court said the receiver's role is to maintain the status quo of Afrinic's assets and preserve the value of the business.

Capacity has spoken with the Official Receiver appointed, Vasoodayven Virasami, who confirmed that his role would be to oversee the appointment of a CEO for the company, and to constitute a full board.

Afrinic’s board currently consists of only four directors, who’s tenures are due to expire on September 18th. The situation has arisen after a series of incidents of inproper governance on behalf of Afrinic, which resulted in the Mauritious court's suspension of CEO Eddy Kayihura, who has since left the company.

This is problematic because according to Afrinic’s constitution, “A quorum for a meeting of the Board shall be the majority of directors, which shall not be less than five (5) directors”.

The matter has prevented outgoing CEO Kayihura from being replaced since November 2022.

The lack of an appropriate board also informed a ruling on Monday that related to Afrinic's legal representation in the ongoing case.

The court decided that due to the lack of a complete board and the inability to reach a quorum, Afrinic’s legal representation in the case were not appropriately mandated to represent the company.

As such, the ruling on the receivership a day later was issued without legal representation from Afrinic present.

Afrinic confirmed these developments in an email sent to its members on 12th September, which was seen by Capacity.

A further email was seen by Capacity today, which instructed members to disregard the correspondence in the first email, but to direct any questions to Virasami, who’s email address was shared.

Virasami confirmed that an official communication on the matter will be issued tomorrow by his office, the Insolvency Service of Mauritius.

Virasami said that, “the company is running perfectly as it is” and the appointment of an official receiver in no way impacted its day-to-day operations.

He also confirmed that the order should not be confused with a liquidation order, and that his responsibility was to constitute a new board and CEO.

The initial timeframe to hold elections for the board is within six months, although an extension may be granted by the court if this timeframe is not met.

Afrinic did not respond to a request to comment at time of publication.

Cloud Innovation CEO, Lu Heng, welcomed the judgement agreeing to his company’s request.

“This provides much needed stability for Africa’s regional internet registry,” he said.

“It is important for the stability of AFRINIC that all members follow the Judgment and work with the Official Receiver to ensure elections can take place.”

Stability in Afrinic's management is important to Cloud Innovation, because it is involved in numerous lawsuits over the confiscation of 6 million IPv4 addresses and the termination of its membership in Afrinic.

In an interview with ITWeb in August 2022, then CEO Kayihura said that Cloud Innovation had filed over 25 lawsuits against Afrinic.

Cloud Innovation was accused by Afrinic of misuse of the IP addresses issued to it, and accused of assigning IP addresses outside of Africa.

Cloud Innovation at that time sued Afrinic and won the court case, but the two sides have been at battle ever since.

As IPv4 addresses are replaced by the newer IPv6 addresses they are increasingly rare and therefore more valuable. Cloud Innovations 6 million IPv4 address assets could be valued as highly as $US 180 million.

Speaking with Capacity, Paul Hjul, director at Crystal Web, a company named in the court documents and involved in its own legal battle with Afrinic said “Crystal Web welcomes the ruling by the Supreme Court and looks forward to a time when Afrinic operates in accordance with the law and it's resource members interests and wishes”.

Gift this article