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African Union Commission Formally Objects Through GAC to DotConnectAfrica's Application for .africa

Suresh Ramasubramanian

This text was released yesterday on the GAC Early Warnings page:
GAC Early Warning – Submittal Africa-AUC-42560

This is the African Union Commission's formal objection, through the ICANN GAC Early Warning Process, to the DotConnectAfrica Trust's amended application 1-1165-42560 for the .africa TLD. Here, it objects to the DCA .africa bid as not having the requisite government support for a Geographic name, and further characterizes DCA's bid as an "Unwarranted Interference and Intrusion"

The campaign DotConnectAfrica since launched has been characterized by a surprisingly high amount of negativity and hostility to other stakeholders and/or any others they see as critical of their activities, with words like "so-called", "worst nightmare" etc. being the norm.

While I agree that the GAC early warning system is not an automatic disqualification, there are some aspects of the AUC's objection that are worth reading, so I'll paste a few key quotes from it.

The African Union Commission wishes to express its objection to the application submitted by Dot Connect Africa (DCA) for the .Africa geographic Top Level Domain.

[...]

In keeping with this mandate and following an open and transparent Request for
Proposal process, UniForum SA, trading as the ZA Central Registry, was appointed as the
registry operator to manage and administer the dotAfrica gTLD

[...]

The application fails to meet the minimum requirements prescribed by ICANN in the gTLD
Applicant Guidebook concerning geographic names.

(summarized below by me)

  • Geographic string which lacks the requisite minimum Government support
  • 39 African countries have endorsed the AUC endorsed Uniforum application for .africa
  • "an unwarranted intrusion on the AUC's mandate"
  • Not adequately and substantively different from the AUC endorsed application

Unwarranted Interference and Intrusion

DCA's application constitutes an unwarranted intrusion and interference with the mandate given to the AUC by African Head of States and African Ministers responsible for Communication and Information Technologies. In this regard the AUC has been mandated to establish dotAfrica (.Africa) as a continental Top-Level Domain for use by organisations, businesses and individuals with guidance from African Internet Agencies and in doing so to set up the structures and modalities for the implementation of the dotAfrica (.Africa) project.

[...]

DCA's persistent interference in this process is likely to have substantive political, economic and social repercussions in Africa.

While various other government objections filed through the GAC early warning process have turned on a particular government's religious or moral concerns, and are much less likely to serve as a factor to disqualify the TLD, the AUC objection above directly addresses the qualifying criteria for a geographic string, and is likely to be a much more major factor in the ICANN decision making process that will decide the fate of the .africa geographic TLD.

By Suresh Ramasubramanian, Architect, Antispam and Compliance

Related topics: ICANN, Internet Governance, Top-Level Domains

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