Written by Sophia Bekele, Founder/Executive Director.
As Executive Director of DotConnectAfrica Trust and founder of the Yes2DotAfrica Campaign, it gives me great pleasure to send this end of year message at Christmas to our entire Pan-African constituency and global community of supporters and well-wishers all over the world!
It is with great pleasure that I write this End of Year message to all of DCA Trust supporters that have been with us since we started this campaign for the .Africa domain name several years ago.
2014 proved to be another eventful year for DCA Trust, and its technology sector affiliates; namely, DCA Registry Services (Kenya) Ltd., and the Internet Business Council for Africa (IBCA).
Let me start by updating you regarding our ongoing .Africa new gTLD legal journey and why .Africa names are not yet available on the Internet.
You may all recall that towards the end of 2013, DCA Trust had filed its Official Notice for Independent Review of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Board actions which DCA considered as irregular and wrongful over DCA Trust's new gTLD application for the .Africa Internet Domain name which we had laboriously pioneered and strongly promoted both in Africa and all over the world. The IRP was empanelled under the auspices of the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) during the 1st quarter of 2014, and soon after, started making many interim rulings and declarations on procedural matters regarding the DCA vs. ICANN IRP.
Apart from one major ruling on the binding nature of the IRP decisions, which no doubt provides great precedence value for global Internet Policy-related Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), accountability and arbitral mechanisms, even for future IRPs; one other very strong victory that DCA Trust was able to achieve in the ongoing IRP, was the IRP Panel's decision to place a temporary injunction that restrains ICANN from continuing with the delegation process of the .Africa Internet domain name to ZA Central Registry (ZACR), who would otherwise be the illegitimate beneficiaries of any wrongful actions that have been wittingly or unwittingly committed by the ICANN Board if the delegation were allowed to proceed without a juridical examination of ICANN's actions regarding the new gTLD award process for .Africa.
During the last quarter of 2014, the legal representatives of DCA Trust have submitted a well-argued and quite comprehensive Second Memorial on the Merits to the IRP Panel. This has again made DCA's case stronger.
"Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well", is an apt saying that is very much applicable in this regard.
This explains why .Africa domain names are not yet available on the Internet. DCA Trust has already explained to its global audiences that the need to properly test and validate the accountability mechanisms of institutions of Global Internet Governance as typified by ICANN in order to ensure that they are truly accountable to the Global Public Interest that they are supposed to serve, profoundly outweighs the other important necessity of rolling out .Africa domain names faster.
Therefore, Africa must continue to demonstrate that as a member of the international community, it is truly committed to good governance safeguards and global best practices and other acceptable democratic standards that form the building blocks of an equitable and just society. DCA Trust therefore believes that the activities of ICANN and the African Union Commission (AUC), as a member of the ICANN global community through the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) must be properly subjected to an accountability process with binding adjudicatory powers.
DCA Trust is therefore hopeful that the IRP will be fully decided around the beginning of the 2nd Quarter of 2015- DCA Trust believes that prevailing in the IRP would enable it to completely fulfill its obligations and other implicit and explicit commitments contained in its Mission and Purpose that were made for the benefit of its Pan-African and Global constituencies; coupled with the attainment of other Charitable Objects codified in DCA's Charter.
Before ending this End of Year Message, I wish to make some brief comments on recent developments that would likely shape the architectural landscape of Global Internet Governance in the very near future.
Status of NTIA Transition and US Congress Oversight
During the first quarter of 2014, the US Department of Commerce National Technology & Information Administration (NTIA) decided to outsource the oversight of the IANA Contract to an ICANN-led International Multi-stakeholder Group. This remained topical in ICANN circles all through 2014. This initiative had remained topical within ICANN circles all through 2014; but even so, still managed to attract the priority attentions of the US Congress who are not too favorably disposed to the idea. Government funding for it was specifically denied in a US$1 trillion omnibus spending bill that was approved by both the House and the US Senate in December 2014. The bill expressly forbids the US Department of Commerce's National Technology & Information Administration from relinquishing its responsibilities regarding Internet Domain Name functions and the IANA contract to ICANN. This would therefore delay the 'IANA Transition' until after September 30, 2015 when the funding bill expires.
Even as the debate over which Internet Governance Framework should be adopted - either continue with the status quo that is pivoted on ICANN's multi-stakeholder model, or move the global Internet Governance under an ITU-led United Nations Framework - has yet to die down, a new "NetMundial" initiative was proposed and spearheaded by Mr. Fadi Chehade, ICANN's President and CEO. Many people have already attacked the NetMundial initiative as an idea that has not been properly developed against the backdrop that there are also other contending models that have already been proposed such as UN/ITU-led model and the existing Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Moreover, the NetMundial initiative appears not to promote inclusivity, and is seen as not transparent, and counter-intuitive to the current Global Multi-stakeholder model that is open and participatory in nature.
Be all that as it may, DCA Trust believes that a fully accountable ICANN that is truly serving the Global Public Interest is what the world can live in. This should however be based on the provision that ICANN is properly governed by an enduring institution that can be relied upon to provide the much-needed oversight of ICANN. Therefore, ICANN's accountability mechanism and processes must be improved upon to ensure that ICANN is not a law unto itself. ICANN must be truly accountable in terms of the transparency of its processes to ensure complete and unfettered probity. As an organization that is currently engaged in juridical proceedings with ICANN, DCA Trust demands nothing less than what is ideal for the global public interest.
This then brings us to new congressional initiatives that could cause ICANN to be firmly brought under the legislative and oversight authority of the United States Congress.
In this regard, DCA Trust already considers itself a thought leader — by properly clarifying an idea that was not really understood by many at an earlier period. DCA Trust has argued in the past that the United States Congress has actual oversight authority and governance responsibilities over ICANN; even though only in law, since Congress has not always exercised this authority over ICANN. Now, that this has been fully recognized, it is safe to predict that Congress would like to thoroughly exercise its full powers over ICANN in the not too distant future; all with a view to protecting the United States Government's over-riding interest in keeping the Global Internet under its firm control.
The coming 2015 therefore promises to be an important year during which pertinent issues of Global Internet Governance would remain highly topical. The direct involvement of the US Congress would no doubt cause those countries who wish to put control of Global Internet Governance within the purview of the UN/ITU to remain seriously engaged in this matter. DCA Trust also intends to closely follow these developments and provide informed commentaries for the benefit of its followers throughout the course of 2015.
Indeed, 2014 was a very busy year for DotconnectAfrica during which our organization continued to deepen its policy advocacy involvements and contributions. DCA Trust and its affiliates continued to bestride the very unique intersection of Global Internet Governance, ICT Knowledge Generation and Management, global advocacy for Cyber-security best practices, and International public policy commentary and provide notable contributions on pertinent matters of Global Internet Policy, amongst other important initiatives that the DCA Group is involved in.
We end 2014 on such a high note and hope, we have all stayed in the Arena, persevered and fought together to achieve the vision of .Africa that still needs a lot of work, however the journey is always tough when it nears the end.
We therefore urge all of our supporters to remain patient, since .Africa's day in the Sun would soon arrive; and on that day, DCA Trust fully intends to deliver on its past promises of providing affordable domain names for the purposes of enhanced branding, business and other promotional opportunities for the new and emerging Africa - our Motherland.
We are very thankful for all the cooperation that we have received over the years - at each stage of this very arduous and complex journey that we have undertaken on your behalf. Please continue to pray and support DCA Trust.
On behalf of DCA and myself, I wish you peace, joy and Goodwill this Holiday Season for Africa and the world!.
See you all in 2015! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Happy New Year
About DotConnectAfrica – DotConnectAfrica a non-profit, non-partisan org registered in Mauritius, along with DCA Registry Services located in Nairobi, Kenya will sponsor, establish and operate a gTLD registry with global recognition and regional significance dedicated to the needs of Pan-African & African constituency. Learn More
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