||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. The specific problem is: some of content fork need to wikify. (June 2014)|
|Introduced||Not officially introduced; proposed in 2000|
|TLD type||Africa's top-level domain|
|Status||Launched in late 2014|
|Intended use||African Union, African and Pan African Constituency|
|Actual use||General Availability will be in October|
|Registration restrictions||None specified yet|
|Structure||Contained in proposal|
.Africa is the proposed Internet generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) for the African and Pan African communities and users wherever they may reside. The .africa TLD serves as a regional domain for individuals and entities based in and out of Africa.
The idea of dotAfrica started in 2000 by an entrepreneur with the support of Pierre Dandjinou and Nii Quaynor, who later registered dotAfrica.org in 2004. It was initially non- feasible, until Africa’s connectivity and digital sphere issues were at least resolved to some extent. When ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) decided to start a policy development process to consider the introduction of new gTLD’s in 2005, the idea of .africa was rekindled.
Sophia Bekele who was on ICANN (Generic Names Supporting Organization) having served in initiating policy dialogue over Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) which permit the global community to use a domain name in their native language or script, initiated the .africa initiative while working at GNSO with .asia and .LAT. Sophia made a presentation of the initiative in 2006 to ICANN on .Africa, and got early endorsements from AUC and UNECA in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
The first highly acclaimed and successful "Yes2dotAfrica" global awareness campaign, for re-branding Africa using the .africa internet domain name was then launched in Kenya under DotConnectAfrica the non-profit initiative she founded. In 2012 DotConnectAfrica submitted their .Africa application.
It was an opportunity for Africa to have its own domain name space. ICANN's Board of Directors authorized the launch of the new gTLD Program in 2011. The African Union Commission (AUC) saw this as a great way to add value to the Internet space and forge an African identity with the introduction of .africa.
In the Oliver Tambo Declaration adopted at the extraordinary Communications and Information Technologies Ministerial Conference (CITMC) held in Johannesburg, South Africa, 2–5 November 2009, the African Union (AU) Ministers of Communications and Technology committed to "WORK TOGETHER to promote the use of Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) as they are a critical national resource whilst ensuring that the technical and administrative operations are at international standards to foster trust and use of African Domain Names in order to bring financial, economic and social-cultural benefits to Africa."
In the Abuja 2010 Declaration adopted at the Third Ordinary Conference (CITMC-3) held in Abuja, Nigeria, 6–7 August 2010, the Ministers requested the African Union Commission (AUC) to ‘’Set up the structure and modalities for the Implementation of the dotAfrica project”. This request followed the Addis Ababa Declaration on Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) adopted by the Summit of the AU Heads of State and Government held in Addis Ababa in January and February 2010, and the Executive Council Decision [EX.CL.559 (XVI)] that directed the AUC to promote better utilization and management of critical Internet resources.
After several meetings between the African Union (AUC) and African domain name experts affiliated with AfriNIC and AfTLD, the AU started setting up structures on how to implement the dotAfrica project. The AUC, in November 2011 released an RFP for applicants who were interested in applying, administering and managing the dotAfrica domain name for the African continent, provided they meet certain criteria such as having the financial and technical stability to run the Registry Operations for the TLD and having connections to the Africa ccTLD operators. Bids were submitted on December 8, 2011 and by December 15, 2011, the ZA Central Registry (ZACR) formerly known as UniForum SA was named the successful bidder in this RFP process.
The ZA Central Registry after having won the bid to run and manage the .africa TLD met with African representatives to establish a Steering Committee, which would have moral and ethical oversight over the .africa Top Level Domain. The Steering Committee consists of African Internet experts, Country Code managers, Registrars and others volunteering for a better Internet for Africa. In April 2012 ZA Central Registry submitted to ICANN its bid to become the Registry Operator for .africa. One of the criteria eligibility criteria to become a Registry Operator for a Geographic-based TLD, was that the bid needs to be supported by minimum 60% of either the countries in that geographic area or the members of that community. With .africa being a geographic TLD, the ZA Central Registry needed to get support from a minimum of 60% of the countries in Africa. ZA Central Registry has received overwhelming support for the administration of the .africa Top Level Domain. Thus far 75% of African countries have endorsed the African Union Commission application for .africa. In addition, the African Union Commission/ZACR bid is supported by individuals wanting to reserve their names for launch and Internet society organizations namely: ITU, UNECA, AfTLD, AfriNIC and many others.
ZA Central Registry established a Steering Committee to provide leadership and oversight for the application and launch processes for the .africa TLD, and provide an avenue for the greater African community to become involved. Members of the committee represent a broad range of countries and organizations within the African content, and participate on a voluntary basis. The Committee is the precursor to the planned dotAfrica Foundation, which will oversee developmental projects and initiatives relating to the Internet and Domain Name System (DNS) industries in Africa.
The members of the Steering Committee are:
- Mohamed El Bashir, Chairperson, representing Sudan
- Adiel Akplogan, representing AfriNIC and Mauritius
- Mohamed Tijani Ben Jemaa, representing AFRALO and Tunisia
- Edmund Katiti, representing NEPAD and Uganda
- Barrack Otieno, representing AfTLD and Kenya
- Alice Munyua,representing Kenya
- Alioune Badara Traoré, representing AfTLD and Mali
- Moses Bayingana, representing the African Union
- Victor Ciza, representing Central National De L'Informatique SA, the ccTLD manager for .bi, and Burundi
List of Countries Supporting the bid for .Africa
78% of African countries have endorsed the AUC bid for .africa, well above the ICANN requirement of 60% support needed. In addition, the ZACR bid is endorsed by the African Union Commission (AUC):
About the dotAfrica Registry Operator
The ZA Central Registry previously trading as UniForum s.a. was established in 1988, as a non-profit company. It is based in Johannesburg, South Africa and is currently responsible for the registry functions of the .ZA namespace. The registry has been operating for over 25 years and is the administrator for co.za, org.za, net.za, web.za. The ZA Central Registry currently boasts over 920 000 Co.Za domain name registrations, which is over 95% of the total registrations in the .ZA ccTLD. This has thus made the registry the largest domain name registry on the African continent. ZA Central Registry also bid and got the chance to administer .Joburg, .CapeTown and .Durban will be launched in June.
Preparing For Launch
After a couple of years of going through evaluation and tests with ICANN, the registry signed four registry operator contracts at the ICANN Singapore meeting in March 2014. This officially appoints them as the official administrators of .Joburg, .CapeTown , .Durban and .Africa. However the .Africa registry is now in dispute with the official filing of DCA Trust with an Independent review panel (IRP)
.Africa in official dispute with ICANN (DCA Trust vs ICANN)
Even before ZACR signed the registry agreement with ICANN, DCA Trust refused to withdraw its application before accountability hearing is completed, as a challenge to the decision that ICANN Board adopted at the Beijing GAC advice and denial of any reconsideration on the treatment of DCA's application.. DCA Trust claimed 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.
On October 2013, DCA Trust filed its claim for an Independent Review Process (IRP) against ICANN at the International Center for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) in New York, the international arm of the American Arbitration Association (AAA), which provides institutional support for the ICANN IRP process. This filing declared the .Africa as officially 'disputed' At the same time, the international IRP panel unanimously ordered an injunction against ICANN from further processing ZACR’s application until the dispute is resolved between ICANN and DCA Trust.
On 14 August 2014 the Panel also ordered precedent setting ruling terming its Declaration and the future Declaration on the Merits of the case will be binding on ICANN. (ICANN wanted this to be “advisory” and not “binding”. This included an order for document discovery and witness testimonies.
On July 9, 2015 following an expert determination of the IRP, in a landmark decision, the Independent Review Process (IRP), unanimously ruled that both the actions an inaction of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has violated its Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. The IRP ordered that 
148 Based on the foregoing, after having carefully reviewed the Parties’ written submissions, listened to the testimony of the three witness, listened to the oral submissions of the Parties in various telephone conference calls and at the in-person hearing of this IRP in Washington, D.C. on 22 and 23 May 2015, and finally after much deliberation, pursuant to Article IV, Section 3, paragraph 11 (c) of ICANN’s Bylaws, the Panel declares that both the actions and inactions of the Board with respect to the application of DCA Trust relating to the .AFRICA gTLD were inconsistent with the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws of ICANN.
149 Furthermore, pursuant to Article IV, Section 3, paragraph 11 (d) of ICANN’s Bylaws, the Panel recommends that ICANN continue to refrain from delegating the .AFRICA gTLD and permit DCA Trust’s application to proceed through the remainder of the new gTLD application process.
150 The Panel declares DCA Trust to be the prevailing party in this IRP and further declares that ICANN is to bear, pursuant to Article IV, Section 3, paragraph 18 of the Bylaws, Article 11 of Supplementary Procedures and Article 31 of the ICDR Rules, the totality of the costs of this IRP and the totality of the costs of the IRP Provider. On 16 July 2015 ICANN's Board of Directors convened a special meeting to quickly address the independent review panel's declaration that held in favor of DotConnectAfrica Trust regarding .AFRICA top-level domain application. During the meeting, the Board resolved to:
•Continue to refrain from delegating the .AFRICA gTLD.
•Permit DCA's application to proceed through the remainder of the new gTLD application process.
•Reimburse DCA for certain costs related to the independent review process.
An IRP is an alternate dispute resolution (ADR) juridical mechanism that empowers an Independent Panel of Jurists, acting as a third-party, to engage in a detailed, procedure-based accountability review process. The standard of adjudication, legal and policy review required in an IRP is very high, since the complainant, who is materially affected by the ICANN Board action or decision, has to prove that certain actions that have been taken by ICANN have violated the Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation of the organization. In deciding the IRP, the Panel has to compare the contested actions (or inactions) of the ICANN Board against the existing stipulations laid down in the Bylaws or Articles of Incorporation of ICANN by focusing on a pre-defined standard of review; and to rule whether such actions or inactions were wrongful and had indeed violated the Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation.
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- Request for Proposals by the African Union Commission for the Operation of Dot Africa | African Union
- Steering Committee, africainonespace.org
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- [domainnewsafrica.com/dot-africa-irp-the-transcript-that-cost-icann-gac-creative-ambiguity-we-leave-things-unclear-so-we-dont-have-conflict/ ".Africa IRP: The Transcript that cost ICANN – GAC’s "Creative ambiguity, We leave things unclear so we don’t have conflict""] Check
|url=scheme (help). DNA. Retrieved Aug 5, 2015.
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