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DotConnectAfrica Clarified Its .africa Bid at the Innovation Africa Digital Summit in Addis Ababa

The 11th Innovation Africa Digital Summit with the theme: "National Broadband Strategies and Agendas: Acceleration and Alignment" was held in Addis Ababa the capital city of Ethiopia from 19thto 21st March 2013. The special three-day event was attended by senior ministers, policy makers,corporate executives, regulators, telecommunications operators and service providers; major end users, finance companies and international agencies.

The Internet Business Council for Africa (IBCA) and DotConnectAfrica Trust were represented at the event. Also in attendance was the Ethiopian State Minister for Communications and Information Technology, H.E. Ato Peter Gat Koukt, who noted that his government recognizes the importance of developing Information and Communications Technologies to eradicate poverty. He also emphasized that "even though Ethiopia already achieved tremendous results in the use of ICT tools, ensuring adequate ICT access to all, and, in particular, providing affordable access to ICT infrastructure and services to rural communities remains a daunting challenge".

The three-day Summit was jointly organized by the Ethiopian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and Extensia Ltd, a bespoke events management and special programme services firm based in the UK. The keynote presentation was made by Mr. Andrew Rugege, Director of the ITU Regional Office for Africa who discussed the Broadband target aimed at 50 per cent penetration by the year 2015 in the developing countries. He congratulated Microsoft Corporation for their low end phones and also commended VMK African-designed tablet computers and local contents recommended by UNESCO and OECD to be used by local content and services providers in Multi-language use of the web. He also discussed the Broadband and Mobile Internet Revolution, which accounts for nearly 6 billion users globally, and noted that currently, the mobile telecommunications revolution has experienced a remarkable uptake in Africa.

During the Universal Access Panel discussions, Ms. Sophia Bekele who represented DCA Registry Services Ltd. at the IAD Summit, took the opportunity to clarify to the august audience that during this new gTLD application window, two (2) bids were actually submitted to ICANN for the .africa (DotAfrica) new gTLD by two different competitors. Ms. Bekele explained that both bids have been placed by ICANN in the same Exact Matching Contention Set, and used the same opportunity to clarify that contrary to the misconception that was being given to the audience that Uniforum ZA Central Registry was the only .Africa applicant, DotConnectAfrica Trust also applied directly to ICANN for the mandate to operate the .Africa new gTLD registry.

Ms. Bekele, who is also a former gNSO Policy advisor to Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for generic domain names and has helped to champion the introduction of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) at ICANN, further noted that "DCA Trust has always tried its best to clarify and inform people, especially in Africa, regarding how the ICANN new gTLD process operates in order to correct the wrongly held view that it is the African Union Commission (AUC) which has the authorized mandate to delegate the DotAfrica new gTLD".

She strongly emphasized that DotAfrica as an Internet new gTLD resource rightly belongs to ICANN, and that the entire new gTLD program is governed by ICANN under a globally approved process." Ms. Bekele said she felt compelled to clarify these matters in order to correct the wrong impression that was being conveyed by the UniForum representative, Koffi Fabrice Djossou that the AUC has jurisdiction to delegate DotAfrica outside the ICANN's process. Ms. Bekele was quite definite in her position that the final decision on DotAfrica new gTLD will be made by ICANN, and not by the African Union.

Mr Bashir Gwandu, Chairman of the ITU Commonwealth Group, who was also on the Universal Access Panel, responded to questions from the audience on whois the most appropriate body to manage the Internet between ICANN and ITU.His response 'if it is not broken why fix it' was lauded by Ms. Bekele and followed by many others. Mr. Gwandu reiterated that he does not favor any form of government intervention in matters of Internet Governance.

DotConnectAfrica Trust has for a long time championed a multi-stakeholder environment at global ICANN and within the AfrICANN Community, and believes that governments should not be involved in the management of new gTLDs. As a matter of fact, ICANN expects the new gTLDs to be managed and administered by registry services operations businesses.

Responding to a participant's request for further clarifications regarding the major differences between the two contrasting bids for DotAfrica, DCA explained that Uniforum in its application submitted to ICANN has already given away the legal rights to the .africa registry databases and all intellectual property to the AU, which explains why Uniforum was calling it an AU initiative, the same view that was held by the NEPAD representative who was also a panelist.

DCA Trust has always maintained that all the rights to the new DotAfrica gTLD including the registry databases, rightfully belongs to ICANN according to the stipulations of the new gTLD Program and the associated new gTLD Registry Services Agreement, and that the African Union and UniForum cannot act outside these specifications that have been legally codified and approved.

DotConnectAfrica

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. Visit Page

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