DotConnectAfrica

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DotConnectAfrica
DotConnectAfrica Logo
Founded 2006
Founder(s) Sophia Bekele
Headquarters
Origins Africa
Key people
  • Sophia Bekele, Founder & CEO
  • Gavin Brown CTO
  • Shanil Ramtohul, CFO
Area served Global
Product(s) .africa
Focus(es) To establish a .africa Top Level Domain while addressing the internet governance divide within Africa.
Members 35
Motto Your Online African Identity
Website DotConnectAfrica

DotConnectAfrica (DCA) is an independent non-profit, non-partisan organisation that was founded in 2006. The organization was incorporated in Mauritius[1] to sponsor, establish and operate the proposed new Top Level Domain (TLD) ".africa".

DotConnectAfrica has its base of operations in Nairobi, Kenya and headquarters in Port Louis, Mauritius.

Governance Structure[edit]

According to the organization website, the governance model is to be adapted from Africa's development policy model augmented with other geo-TLD models. Public Policy consideration will include direct input from African policy makers, including the African Union, Economic Commission for Africa and African Development Bank on policy matters.[2]

History[edit]

Sophia Bekele, director of DotConnectAfrica, has undertaken policy-level work at ICANN. She served as a gNSO Council member from 2005 to 2007 and participated in the new gTLD policy development process (PDP).[3][4] Bekele initiated the .africa TLD in 2006 in ICANN and announced during the Paris ICANN International meeting to the stakeholders, her organization will made a bid for the .africa TLD.[5] DCA presented the DotAfrica (.africa) gTLD initiative to several inter-governmental bodies in Africa such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and the African Union Commission (AUC). The UNECA endorsed DotConnectAfrica's application in 2008. The AUC also endorsed the proposal in 2009.[6][7][8]

Yes2dotAfrica Global Campaign[edit]

After the approvals by the Pan African institutions, DotConnectAfrica then launched and run a 6 year successful "Yes2dotAfrica" global awareness campaign as an on-going effort to create awareness of the benefits of a dotAfrica name and do a public outreach. This campaign initiative, also part of DCA's Trust program is meant to give Africa a regional identity and global presence.[9][10] The Campaign was first launched in East Africa during the 2010 AITEC East Africa ICT Summit held from 7–8 September 2010 in Nairobi, Kenya. Sophia Bekele, the executive director, DotConnectAfrica made the announcement during the summit in her Keynote speech[11][12] Since, the Yes2dotafrica campaign has gained recognition and been given credence as a platform for advocacy of the benefits of DotAfrica gTLD and technology transfer and received a very high number of global media coverage[13][14][15][16][17][18]

In December 2011, DCA reported that over 3600 potential registrants had preregistered with DCA as part of its promotional campaign jointly with United Domain. DCA also said in its application to ICANN that, if granted the right to administer the .africa TLD, DCA would set prices at levels competitive with the popular .com TLD: about $10 for the domains[7]

Other trust programs identified by DCA include Miss.africa, Generation.africa and driving the capacity of the African ccTLDs.[19][20]

AUC interest in .Africa and its participation in the ICANN process[edit]

After the AUC gave an early endorsement to DotConnectAfrica to establish a .africa registry, the same AUC department, Infrastructure and Energy, which wrote a support letter of support for DCA application, turned around and expressed a new interest to get the TLD for itself. Then, the African Union Commission issued a statement on May 12, 2010, referencing the endorsement letter issued by Chairman Jean Ping to DCA, and stated that they would work with ICANN and other internet stakeholders to go through an open process to determine the implementation of .africa.

Nearly a year later, the AUC organized an "AU DotAfrica Task Force" (members drawn from the African Internet Community, but that did not include DCA members), and issued yet another letter after the prior one to DCA, stating that the AU did not support nor endorse any individual or organization and announced that entities interested must submit their Expression of Interest (EOI), which would served as the Commission’s basis for endorsement and selection [21][22] DCA criticized AUC's plan to issue an EOI for an endorsement process, stating AUC’s objective for accountability and transparency was "hollow and unbelievable," as their EOI fails to acknowledge the previous endorsement issued to DCA by the AUC. Furthermore, DCA pointed out that the EOI process would be biased, as the AU Task Force had already expressed its support for AfTLD during the 2011 annual African ccTLD event in Ghana. Additionally the AU Task force members are the same individuals who have vested interest in the outcome of the .africa as the members are compiled of the individuals that have registered a "dotafrica.org" domain and have claimed to be the competition for DCA's initiative.[23]

During the ICANN 46 International meeting in October 2011 in Dakar Senegal, DCA opposed the reservation of the names .africa, .afrique and .afriqya, suggestions that had been forwarded by the AUC and the AU DotAfrica Task Force, after the ministerial round table that preceded the Senegal ICANN meeting[24] DCA strongly objected to this proposal by voicing its opinion during the ICANN Dakar public forum meeting directly to the ICANN Board as well as in writing to ICANN.[25] DCA stated the addition of these names to ICANN's reserved list would have jeopardized the .Africa applications in the current new gTLD opening from being applied to by any applicant as per ICANN's gTLD guidebook[26] The reservation of these names to the AUC would have meant that all the applications of the .africa gTLD would have been annulled and there would not be any competition to the .Africa gTLD at the ICANN level, as the names will be reserved for the AUC under a legislative protection for their own use as the AUC is requesting. After a period of time, DCA's requested for a public written response from ICANN on this issue and ICANN responded on March 8, 2012, to the Communiqué presented by the AU officials during the Pre-Senegal Ministerial roundtable and eventually the names were not reserved, making DCA victorious on this issue[27]

Failing to get the name directly reserved by ICANN in Dakar's request, in January 2013, the African Union Commission directly appointed a South African company UniForum to administer the .africa TLD on behalf of Africa however this was contested by DCA as quite misleading since a firm cannot be selected to administer a domain that has not yet been delegated. Then the African Union Commission issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) and endorsed the same South African company as a preferred applicant for .africa, stating that it went through an international competitive bid in an open and transparent process. DotConnectAfrica stated the AU RFP to select a Registry was issued shortly after Dakar meeting in December and an award was made in January, an incredibly short period of evaluation time compared to what even ICANN registry selection process for an applicant would take nearly 6 –8 months. Additionally, the AU RFP imposed a "community application restrictions" which is not in line with the ICANN RFP for a gTLD applicant, making it impossible for any serious applicant to legitimately participate in the process, except Uniform that was directly recommended by the Chairman of the AFTLD (African Top Level Domian Name organization) who also runs the South African .ZA authority, as well as whose organization is represented at the AU DotAfrica TaskForce. Therefore, DCA contested that the entire RFP should be null and void as it is illegitimate and the members full of conflict of interest. Thereafter, DCA challenged the AU to fully disclose several issues in the greater interest of global public transparency and accountability” and release the details of its (dot)Africa EOI process and the RFP. DCA also submitted this issues to ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee[28][29]

Application to ICANN[edit]

The DotAfrica .africa gTLD application was submitted by DCA Trust during the application window that opened on 12 January 2012 and closed on 22 May 2012. DCA hopes to win the mandate from ICANN for the management of the .africa gTLD to enable it administer this resource on behalf of its Pan-African constituency and other stakeholders around the globe.

DCA Trust has made explicit commitment in its .africa application to ICANN that the Trust will establish a full-service Internet registry which will be operated by DCA Registry Services Ltd. in accordance with the technical and operational criteria and other specifications stipulated by ICANN in the new gTLD Applicants' Guidebook.[30]

In its response to comments for competitive applicants, DCA wrote its official response to the Evaluators of ICANN that the application for Uniforum should be disqualified as it does not meet the legal, financial and endorsement criteria that followed the ICANN guidebook. Amongst many of its comments, most significantly DCA criticized that Uniforum's application submitted as co-applicant with AU has given the rights of the database and Intellectual property to the AU in a separate contract as such policy is against ICANNs new gTLD requirements, despite the AUC not even being alegal applicant, just to get public support from African governments. Additionally DCA noted that uniforum provided an Understated Registry COI Amount and therefore UniForum does not pass the Financial Evaluation Criteria for the COI, if the actual COI amount provided by UniForum has been deliberately understated and that the amount is grossly insufficient to cater for the necessary user and registrant protection from possible risks of .AFRICA registry failure (or business failure of UniForum ZA Central Registry).[31]

DotConnectAfrica's complaint letter to the US congress[edit]

In February 2013, not getting response to the communication sent to ICANN and the African Union [32][33] DCA appealed to members of the U.S. Congress in February, 2013. DCA wrote and reiterated their issues with the manner in which UniForum received and carried out the AU's endorsement. DCA notes that it does not feel there are sufficient mechanisms for appeal or dealing with illegalities over the new gTLD program and requested the U.S. Congress to intervene immediately to appoint an independent New gTLD Ombudsman for the entire ICANN New gTLD program, where such grievances will be heard and addressed [34]

Early warnings of objections to DCA's application[edit]

On November 20, 2012, the AUC failing to get the .africa string names reserved, they followed the advice given by the ICANN Board in their reply to the AU communiqué, that states “While ICANN is not able to offer the specific relief requested in the Communiqué, the robust protections built into the New gTLD Program afford the African Union (and its individual member states), through the Government Advisory Committee, the opportunity to raise concerns that an applicant is seen as potentially sensitive or problematic, or provide direct advice to the Board. In addition, the African Union (and its individual member states) can avail itself of any of the appropriate objection processes mentioned above in the event an application is received for any string – even those beyond representations of .Africa – that may raise concern” and so filed an "early warning" objecting to DCA's application for the dotAfrica TLD with ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). Therefore, the objection by the AUC stated that "the application fails to meet the minimum requirements prescribed by ICANN in the gTLD Applicant Guidebook concerning geographic names" [35] and that

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.[35]

Identical early warnings of objection were filed with the GAC by the governments of Comoros, Kenya, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Benin, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Morocco, Uganda, Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria, and Tanzania.[36]

GAC Objection to DCA's application[edit]

Beijing GAC objection: The ICANN meeting in Beijing China set the ground for some of the new gTLD procedures to continue, GAC Advice was part of the communiqué that saw several strings receive varying responses to their applications. The results of the GAC advice though attracted wide criticism from the internet fraternity as to how some of the decisions were reached. DotConnectAfrica application received a GAC Objection advice to which they submitted a response following guidelines of the guidebook[37] The New gTLD Program Committee, which is part of the ICANN Board subsequently gave recommendation that the GAC advice be followed, which essential is the Board's advise, DCA critiqued in their reply to GAC.[38] DCA then refused to withdraw, its application before accountability hearing is completed, against the backdrop that the ICANN Board decision was “unfair, discriminatory, and lacked appropriate due diligence and care” as well as “anti-competitive” to their application and organizational aspirations.[39][40][41]

IRP Process: DCA Vs ICANN[edit]

After the objection, DotConnectAfrica refused to back down and contacted the African Union and ICANN.[42] DCA also requested for a Reconsideration which ICANN denied prompting that organization to begin the Independent Review Process. The IRP is a proceeding provided for in Article IV, Section 3 of the ICANN Bylaws, by which any person materially affected by a decision or action of the ICANN Board may request that the action be reviewed by an independent third party for consistency with the ICANN Bylaws and/or Articles of Incorporation and is governed by the International Dispute Resolution Procedures of the ICDR and the Supplementary Procedures for ICANN IRP Process.[43][44][45]

In March 26, 2014 at the ICANN Singapore meeting ICANN signed a controversial contract with ZACR, despite IRP proceedings with DCA, which received criticisms against such actions by some African public media.[46][47]

IRP Injunction awarded DotConnectAfrica Trust[edit]

In May 12, 2014 DCA won an injunction against ICANN in its IRP Proceedings in an arbitration process. The Injunction ruled that "ICANN must immediately refrain from any further processing of any application for .africa until this Panel has heard the merits of DCA’s Trust Notice of Independent Review Process and issued its final decision regarding the same". ICANN had in March 24 2014 proceeded to sign a contract with ZACR who are competitors for the ".africa" string, sparking an outrage that ICANN was continually mistreating DCA Trust. DCA is represented by an international law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP based in New York while ICANN is represented by a Los Angeles-based Law Firm Jones Day LLC, which has been working with ICANN nearly since its inception [48] [49][50] [51] [52][53]

The progress of the IRP can be found on DCA's website[9]

Registry Services Strategic & Industry Partnerships[edit]

DotConnectAfrica announced in June 2012 that it had made an agreement with CentralNic, a domain name registrar in the United Kingdom, to provide registry services for the .africa TLD. DCA also reached agreements with Safaricom and Fincom to provide co-location for the hardware necessary to run the .africa registry.[54]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Trust Registration. ID. CT8710DCA90 "DotConnectAfrica Trust". Retrieved 2012-06-12. 
  2. ^ "Governance Structure of DCA". Retrieved 2012-06-12. 
  3. ^ "Paris ICANN: DotAfrica Initiative announced at ICANN Paris meeting!". Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  4. ^ PRlog. "DotConnectAfrica: ICANN 42 Dakar: Meet the Yes2dotAfrica Campaign in Senegal". Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  5. ^ "African Union endorses the domain name ".Africa" to DotConnectAfrica Organization". Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  6. ^ "African domain gets a nod". ITWeb Online. August 12, 2010. Retrieved August 20, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Tim Hume (December 5, 2011). "Scramble for 'dot africa' internet domain name". CNN Wire. 
  8. ^ "The Battle for DotAfrica - Who Will Get the Crown Jewels?". Africa News. July 8, 2011. Retrieved August 20, 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "Independent Review Process (ICDR No. 50 117 T 1083 13) DCA Vs. ICANN". DotConnectAfrica. Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  10. ^ Bizcommunity, Carole Kimutai (Sep 10, 2010). "Dot Africa campaign to brand continent". Business Journal. Retrieved Feb 17, 2014. 
  11. ^ Agano Consulting, Summit programme (Sep 7, 2010). "Lead speaker Sophia Bekele at the "Launch of the Dot Africa East African campaign"- AITEC EAst Africa Summit". New gTLD News. Retrieved Feb 14, 2014. 
  12. ^ Constant Contact (2010). "Taking Africa to the Promised land!....one Country at a time!!". Press Campaign. Retrieved Feb 17, 2014. 
  13. ^ Bloomberg TV Africa (Nov 26, 2013). ""African Women to Watch" - Sophia Bekele on Bloomberg TV". Retrieved Nov 24, 2013. 
  14. ^ CNN, Tim Hume (Dec 7, 2011). "Scramble for 'dot africa' internet domain name". TV Interview. Retrieved Feb 24, 2014. 
  15. ^ Africa 7 TV (Dec 21, 2011). "Africa 7's Zara DERIBE in a conversation with Sophia Bekele on DotAfrica and being a Woman-In-Charge". TV Interview. Retrieved Feb 17, 2011. 
  16. ^ NTV TV (Mar 3, 2011). "Nations TV calls Sophia Bekele on business in Africa + the new Domain for Africa". TV Interview. Retrieved 2012. 
  17. ^ K24 TV (Mar 8, 2011). "Capital Talk, Movers and Shakers of Africa". TV Interview. Retrieved Nov 16, 2012. 
  18. ^ KASS Media International, June J (Apr 27, 2011). "KASS Media International on her international work by CBS International and DCA activities". Radio Interview. Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  19. ^ Radio Netherlands Wordwide (Apr 27, 2011). "Africa in Progress - Mobile banking: Africa’s next revolution". Radio Interview. Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  20. ^ RNW Africa Desk (Mar 22 201o). "A DotAfrica generation soon to be born". Radio Interview. Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Yes2DotAfrica Say "No" to African Union Expression of Interest (EOI) for DotAfrica". DotConnectAfrica. May 23, 2011. Retrieved May 1, 2014. 
  22. ^ "AfTLD concludes a successful annual African ccTLD event in Accra Ghana". AFTLD. May 2011. Retrieved May 1, 2014. 
  23. ^ "Internet war: Scramble for .africa domain as January deadline looms". The East African, Mwaura Kimani. Dec 5, 2011. Retrieved May 1, 2014. 
  24. ^ CircleID (Nov 13, 2011). "DCA Defends its Opposition to the Experts Meeting Agenda of the DotAfrica Task Force". Internet Report. Retrieved May 5, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Yes2dotAfrica Campaign Triumphs at ICANN-42 Meeting in Dakar Senegal". Africa union. 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2014. 
  26. ^ Dot Africa soap
  27. ^ Letter from Steve Crocker to Elham M.A. Ibrahim "Letter from Steve Crocker to Elham M.A. Ibrahim". ICANN. 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2014. 
  28. ^ "DCA challenges Africa Union on full disclosure over (dot)Africa gTLD matters". Aptantech. March 8, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2014. 
  29. ^ "AU COMMUNIQUE: On the implementation of the dotAFRICA (.AFRICA) Top Level Domain (TLD)". Africa union. 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2014. 
  30. ^ "ICANN New gTLDs - Application Details". ICANN. Retrieved April 22, 2014. 
  31. ^ "DotConnectAfrica Trust Official Public Comments for the ICANN Evaluation Panel on the Application Submitted by UNIFORUM ZA Central Registry for the .Africa Generic Top-Level Domain Name". ICANN. Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  32. ^ ICANN (July 12, 2012). "Africa: DCA Letter: Opposition to the Application by UniForum ZA Central Registry for the .AFRICA gTLD". Technology Journal. Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  33. ^ DomainingAfrica, Brent Donald (Mar 1, 2013). "US-Congress receives request from DotConnectAfrica for a new gTLD Ombudsman to investigate and report on the existing illegality and irregularities on .africa". Domains. Retrieved Mar 6, 2014. 
  34. ^ DotConnectAfrica (Feb 21, 2013). "DCA Letter to US Congress about Africa,DotConnectAfrica.org". Letter to Congress. Retrieved April 29, 2014. 
  35. ^ a b "GAC Early Warning 1-1165-42560". ICANN. November 20, 2012. Retrieved November 22, 2012. 
  36. ^ "GAC Early Warnings". ICANN. Retrieved November 22, 2012. 
  37. ^ "GAC Advice Response". ICANN. Retrieved May 23, 2013. 
  38. ^ "DotConnectAfrica Request for Immediate Reconsideration and Our Response to NGPC Resolution". DotConnectAfrica. Retrieved June 14, 2013. 
  39. ^ "ICANN moves to delegate ".africa" TLD with DCA’s case yet to be resolved". CIO East Africa, Michael Ouma. Retrieved March 26, 2014. 
  40. ^ "A delayed evaluation "pass" score for .Africa competition". thereporterethiopia. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  41. ^ "DotConnectAfrica requests for re-consideration of the NGPC Decision on its .africa application to the ICANN Governance Board". domainnewsafrica. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  42. ^ "DCA Trust raises ethical questions, writes to newly elected African Union Leaders on .africa debacle". thereporterethiopia. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 
  43. ^ "DCA Trust takes ".africa" case with ICANN to Independent Review Process (IRP) Panel". CIO. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  44. ^ "Africa: DCA Trust Takes '.africa' Case With Icann to Independent Review Process Panel". allafrica. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  45. ^ "DCA Trust V ICANN". ICANN. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  46. ^ "Award of DotAfrica contract to ZACR raises doubts over ICANN’s credibility". CIO East Africa, Yohannes Tadesse. Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  47. ^ "Silence signals Injustice over ICANN dotAfrica domain signing ceremony". Domaining Africa, Brent Donald. Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  48. ^ "DCA Trust wins first round against ICANN in injunction on DotAfrica domain". CIO East Africa, Michael Ouma. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  49. ^ "dotAfrica launch further delayed by DotConnectAfrica injunction". Human IPO. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  50. ^ "DCA Receives an Injunction It Requested in Its IRP Proceedings". CircleID. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  51. ^ "Breaking: DotConnectAfrica wins .africa injunction against ICANN in first new gTLD IRP case". Domain News Africa. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  52. ^ "Africa: DCA Trust Wins First Round Against Icann in Injunction On Dotafrica Domain". All Africa. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  53. ^ "Tribunal freezes ICANN processing on .africa: Independent Review Panel Rules in favor of DotConnectAfrica". Tandaabiashara. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  54. ^ "Telecompaper Africa/Asia: Kenya - Safaricom, Fincom to support DotAfrica registry in Kenya". Telecompaper Asia and Africa. June 19, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2012. 

Further reading[edit]