DotConnectAfrica

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DCA.JPG
Type: Non-Profit
Industry: Internet
Founder(s): Sophia Bekele
Headquarters: I/F River Court 6th Denis Street Port Louis
Country: Mauritius, Kenya
Website: DotConnectAfrica
Blog: DCA Blog
Key People
  • Sophia Bekele, Founder & CEO
  • Gavin Brown Chief, Technical Officer
  • Shanil Ramtohul, Chief Finance Officer
  • Dev R. Erriah, Corporate Council
  • Kim Gueho, Trust Fund Manager
  • Barry Ryan, Corporate Relations
  • Yassin Mashana, Vice Chair Strategic Advisory Board

DotConnectAfrica (DCA) is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization that has its base of operation in Nairobi, Kenya and headquartered in I/F River Court 6th Denis Street Port Louis, Mauritius, Africa. Its main objective is to sponsor, establish and operate the proposed new Top Level Domain (TLD) .africa, pronounced as dotAfrica that will cater for the needs of the African and Pan-African constituency and also to address the lack of adequate internet policy in Africa. DCA is well represented in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, South Africa, London United Kingdom, and California, USA. [1]

Mission

DCA aims to accomplish the following missions:

  • Become the sponsor and operator of the .africa gTLD and establish it as regional internet domain name space with a global recognition dedicated to the needs of the Pan-African and African constituency.
  • Reinvest surplus of the registry business in socio-technological development projects significant to the Pan-Africa and African constituency.
  • Operate an effective and technically advanced TLD registry through the initiative of not-for-profit organization.[2]

Trust Programs

DCA has already undertaken successful initiatives under its Trust program which include the following:

Miss.africa: The miss.africa programme is a gender-focused initiative targeted mainly at female youth audiences in Africa to increase their personal involvement in early technology use and adoption with a view to improving their digital self-awareness and empowerment, and overall self-esteem. It was inspired mainly by the DNS Women’s group of ICANN. The "Miss.Africa" program is envisioned as one of the central pillars of DCA’s corporate social responsibility program and was first launched and publicized during the ICANN gala event in Singapore [3][4]and continued in Dakar. It is aimed at attracting more young girls and women to the Internet platform to enable them form a sizable demographic of Internet users in Africa, thereby involving them in complementary gender development initiatives that improve the lives of young girls and women[5]

Generation.africa: Generation.africa is a youth focused program launched by DCA to empower a new generation of Internet users in Africa using its generation.africa theme. It is intended to target different youth audiences and encourage them to be involved in discussions that define and increase their common stake-holding in the development and evolution of the Internet and how this affects them. e.g[6][7][8] [9]

African ccTLD’s: DCA has noted that African ccTLDs are at a great disadvantage and have stagnated for a very long period of time. DCA’s DotAfrica initiative has strongly advocated for African ccTLDs and proposed to work with them based on a beneficial cross-marketing scheme that would help grow the base of user registrations and also improve the technologies and businesses of the African ccTLDs eg.[10]

Yes2dotAfrica Awareness Campaign: DCA’s Yes2Dotafrica campaign has gained recognition as a platform for advocacy of the benefits of DotAfrica gTLD and technology transfer. DCA has been invited to share its knowledge and experiences at major Universities in the U.S, Heads of States forums in Africa, United Nations and other large economic forums in US, Europe and globally, including Web 2.0, TV & Radio programs, IGF and ICANN forums, allowing it to become a highly visible applicant and advocate for the African gTLD. DCA will continue to use the Yes2DotAfrica campaign to promote the DotAfrica.[11]

Governance Structure

The governance structure for DotConnectAfrica is made up of a consortium of public-private partnership to include sponsor organizations and co-sponsor members, businesses, non-profit – NGOs and other relevant African organizations and individuals in the region. Driven via a multi-stakeholder input and augmented by regional and international expertise, the organization is to include the direct and close involvement of many Governments, Businesses, NGO’s and individuals to ensure a wealth of knowledge and expertise is represented. [12]

Global Leadership Strategic Advisory Team

To successfully drive this vision and strategy, DCA has assembled a high-profile Global Strategic Advisory Team comprised of technology analysts and visionaries, Internet domain industry experts, entrepreneurs, business executives and leaders in various sectors and walks of life, to provide strategic guidance and input to the work of DCA on a regular basis.

The SAB members are presently thirty (30) people and are from different countries in Africa and globally, where they help to champion the work of DCA, and perform high-level governmental and business liaison and advocacy whenever required. Apart from the support they provide, they also perform different aspects of DCA's work when called upon to assist in any given area that is within their professional and/or executive competency. This approach ensures that DCA’s work is infused with top-quality advice on a consistent basis. The SAB members have provided written letters in support of DCA’s application and its proposed initiative. The profiles of the SAB members and their letters of support for DotConnectAfrica can be accessed at:[13]

Registry Services Strategic & Industry Partnerships

In furtherance of, and in implementing the charitable objects of the Trust, several vital steps have been taken by DCA to set up a registry services operation, and in the process of implementing this important objective, has also signed and executed important agreements with key partners in the registry services business, Internet services and telecommunications sector, and a computer network technical support firm to provide ancillary services. DCA believes that these strategic partnerships are essential to harnessing the wide range of applicable skills and corporate capabilities required to create the type of synergies that would ensure the unconditional success of DotAfrica.

International Partner:

In order to acquire the technology and skills relevant to running and operating a registry on a sustainable basis, having an international registry partner is crucial. To this end, DCA entered into a binding agreement with CentralNIC, a registry services provider and a successful operator and administrator of several Internet domains, based in London, England. CentralNIC is active in the ICANN global community and has a good reputation as a world-class registry service. CentralNIC will provide DCA with the requisite technical and operational capacities to support the establishment of the DCA Registry Services to be located in Nairobi, Kenya. CentralNIC is fully equipped, and has the capability to provide the type of high-end, world-class registry services that would satisfy all the stringent functional and operational requirements of ICANN’s new gTLD programme. In the event of a successful application to ICANN that will result in the execution of a gTLD registry services agreement for DotAfrica, CentralNIC will provide DCA Registry Services with the necessary software, system support, technical management and administration services coupled with adequate staff technical training required for the operation of a back-end registry system. Furthermore, CentralNIC will also provide sales and marketing training to DCA staff, and also to other ICANN-accredited registrars who wish to resell DotAfrica domains.[14][15][16] DCA will acquire and install all the necessary computer server hardware and network accessories required to set-up the physical infrastructure of the technical registry services system.

Local Partnerships:

The technical registry system will be located in the Data Centre facilities operated by Safaricom Ltd. - the Kenya national telecommunications carrier, mobile network operator and Internet services provider. To this end, DCA has executed a Colocation Services Agreement with Safaricom for the location of computer server hardware and network accessories in the Safaricom Data Centre. A fixed data optic fibre network connection with an Internet bandwidth of 20Mbps capacity will be provisioned by Safaricom to connect the DCA Technical Registry System to the Safaricom telecommunications network and global Internet. The Safaricom Data Centre has all the necessary facilities such as ample rack space, backup power generator, clean UPS power, air-conditioning, humidity/dust control, automatic fire extinguishers, physical site security, structured cabling system, etc. The availability of these facilities would enable the easy and fast installation of the DCA Technical Registry system with total guarantee of reliable performance

FINCOM Technologies (Kenya) Ltd. is also another strategic partner that would provide DCA with the initial office representation, and hardware technical support and other local facilitation and ancillary services until the DCA Registry Services is set-up permanently and becomes operational in Kenya as a ‘registry operator’. DCA and FINCOM already have a binding agreement to govern the range of support services provided to DCA.[17][18][19]

Background

DCA was founded in 2008 by Sophia Bekele, who serves as Executive Director of the organization. Her intent, by supporting the .africa initiative, is to remove the internet policy divides in the African Region, and to support the region in catching up with the innovations of the worldwide Internet and Communications Technology industry. In 2009, the organization began its campaign to gather support for the .africa initiative by conducting forums in different universities and international conferences, among which were the Golden Gate University, UC Berkeley, Stanford University, Sacramento State University, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), the United Nations Development of Economics & Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the United Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN).[20]

The proposal to develop the DotAfrica TLD was first introduced by Sophia Bekele to the African Members of the ICANN Board in 2006 [21], and different African organizations of the ICANN community during the ICANN 28 meeting in Lisbon, Portugal in 2007[22]. She emphasized the importance of the .africa domain name for the benefit of the African region’s internet development and how it could serve as global identity for African internet users, as .asia and .eu do for their regions. Bekele argued that the initiative was compliant with the objectives and policies of various international organizations aiming to strengthen Africa's ICT sector, including the WSIS, the African Union, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).[23]

During the ICANN 32 International ICANN Public Meeting, Bekele officially announced her bid to apply for the .africa TLD through DotConnectAfrica.[24]

Endorsements to DCA

The organization received endorsement and support from the African Union Commission (AUC) through its Chairman, Jean Ping, on August 27, 2009. Ping expressed that the AUC was willing to assist DCA in the coordination the DotAfrica initiative with African ministers and governments.[25] In addition, Amina Salima, head of the African Union Mission in Washington, also supported DCA’s DotAfrica initiative. Salima said, "one of the objectives of the African Union Mission in the USA is to mobilize the African Diaspora efforts. Towards this end, the AU mission would like to express support for the .africa initiative." Abdoulie Janneh, UN under-secretary-general and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission of Africa (ECA), also sent a letter of endorsement to DCA stating the following: "I write to express my support on behalf of ECA. This is a worthwhile initiative that will contribute substantially to helping Africa bridge the digital divide. It will certainly help the continent to derive similar benefits from the successful experience from the European Union which has the .eu domain and that of Asia with its .asia domain.” Other high-ranking officials from different governments in Africa also supported DCA's initiative.[26] During the ICANN 37 Meeting at Nairobi, Kenya in 2010, the members of the Nairobi technical community who attended the public forum also expressed their support to DCA.[27]

Global Campaign and Promotional Work

DCA’s early global campaign and promotional work for DotAfrica has put the .africa TLD on the global TLD map.[28] In readiness for the important task of applying for a geographic TLD with the hope of operating the resulting gTLD registry (if the application to ICANN is successful), DCA has taken an avid interest in the Internet Domain Name Industry and has been an active participant at ICANN for several years - not only following developments within the industry, but also attending international ICANN meetings on a regular basis.

DCA is fully supportive of ICANN, and its new gTLD programme objectives. DCA has also sponsored several ICANN meetings, notably in Brussels in 2008[29] and in Dakar, Senegal in 2011.[30]

Its spearhead, Ms. Sophia Bekele has undertaken important policy-level work at ICANN as a gNSO Council member from 2005 to 2007 and participated in the new gTLD policy development process (PDP). She led the global promotional campaign for DotAfrica visiting various countries within the continent to sensitive various publics to help build consensus on the need and overall desirability of DotAfrica. She also provided a written letter of support of the ICANN new gTLD programme to the U.S. National Technology & Information Administration (NTIA) of the United States Department of Commerce to ensure official top-level U.S. governmental support for the ICANN new gTLD programme initiative in Washington D.C. which is required for its global and unconditional success.[31] In 2012, she also wrote an. Open Letter to US Congress to Express Support in Defense of the Status Quo on Global Internet Governance Model and Reaffirmation of the Multistakeholder Process[32]

Concurrently, DCA launched a global promotional campaign establishing itself as lead and spearheading the .africa project under a Yes2dotAfrica Campaign. [33]

The Organization was also credited for its pioneer-ship in the use of a Pan-African Social Media sites including .africa, .afrique and .afriqya, as an effective campaign tool to make its voice heard in the (3) major official languages spoken of Africa.'[34]

DCA’s Presentations, speeches and publications used for this global campaign and promotional work to create awareness of the .africa TLD are chronicled on their website at .'[35]

Since the launch of the global campaign and promotional work, over 60 press releases and over 85 email campaigns covering key communications, messages and other news items relevant to .africa have been published at DotConnectAfrfica News Archives Homepage[36] and PRLog Press Room [37]

Key Communications Affecting Africa

DCA has provided key communications and letters to various organisations responsible for the Global Internet Governance including ICANN, NTIA, IANA,and US Government concerning the several issues that affect the African Continent and its internet constituency interests, plus the .africa gTLD. Select Communication include:

  • 4 June 2012- Open Letter to US Congress to Express Support in Defense of the Status Quo on Global Internet Governance Model and Reaffirmation of the Multistakeholder Process [38]
  • 31 October 2011- DotConnectAfrica Executive Briefing Note following the ICANN-42 International Meeting in Dakar, Senegal[39]
  • 27 October 2011-DotConnectAfrica Statement to ICANN Public Forum in Dakar on issues of Reserved Names for gTLDs and the Multi-Stakeholder process[40]
  • 9 February 2011- New gTLD Program Milestone Report and Addenda, Joint SO-AC Working Group [41]
  • 2.September 2011- Applicant Support for New gTLD[42]
  • 25 December 2011- Providing Support to applicants requiring assistance in applying for and operating new gTLD [43]
  • 31 March 2011- Request for Comments on IANA Function [44]
  • 18 January 2011-Open Letter to US Department of Commerce National Telecommunication Information Administration (NTIA) making a preliminary case for the .africa gTLD [45]
  • 21 December 2010- DCA statement to ICANN public forum, Cartagena, Colombia. [46]
  • 25 June 2008 - The .Africa project announced at public forum in Paris, France [47][48]
  • 13 November 2010- Letter to At-Large Board Candidate Evaluation Committee (BCEC)[49]
  • 11 February 2008 - Support for the mid-term review of the Joint Project Agreement (JPA) agreement to the Office of Internal Affairs, of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, in Washington DC[50] and ICANN confirmation of DCA support, 28 Feb 2008

Controversies over .africa Endorsement

Retraction of AUC's Endorsement:

The African Union Commission issued a statement on May 12, 2010, referencing the endorsement letter issued by 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. After the AU organized a DotAfrica Task Force, then the Task Force issued another letter a year after the prior, 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.[51]

DCA criticized AUC's plan to implement the EOI submission competition process for application endorsement. DCA claimed that the AUC’s objective for accountability and transparency was "hollow and unbelievable," as the letter they issues references the previous endorsement issued to DCA, however fails to acknowledge the previous endorsement issued by Chairman Ping. 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. DCA encouraged all organizations to disregard the AU EOI process and asked AUC to cease the request.[52][53]

DCA's response to the AU retraction and the conflict that arose:

DCA believes that its AU endorsement was never rescinded. Admittedly, there was an attempt to withdraw the endorsement using a forged letter, so this wicked action did not work, and DCA's endorsement remains valid. Since there are two different competing visions for .AFRICA - one that is oriented towards serving an 'African Community' and 'African Internet Community' and ownership by the AU and African governments and African ccTLDs who already have their 2-code country TLDs; and DCA's vision that is based on an open, generic standard TLD that serves both the global Internet community, but with particular focus on Africa/Pan-African interests and organizations that have an interest/stake in Africa.

The conflict arose simply because certain people who wanted to hijack the .AFRICA for themselves tried to use an extraordinary process under the political and diplomatic cover of the AU to stop DCA from participating in the process, but DCA believes that the new gTLD process is managed by ICANN, and that it would exercise its democratic right to apply by following the new gTLD program guidelines set by ICANN, and let the final decision be based on the outcome of the ICANN Evaluation.

The other group believes that the rights to the .AFRICA gTLD belongs to the AU representing African governments, but DCA insists that the .AFRICA gTLD is an Internet resource that belongs to ICANN, and let ICANN give it to whoever has the winning application based on the set criteria. In a nutshell the whole conflict is centered around the simple fact that DCA refused to accept the bullying and intimidation of a certain vested interest group, and decided to put its faith on the ICANN process.

Continuous Promotional Campaign at ICANN Meetings & Other Forums

Despite the AU's retraction of support, DCA continued to campaign and promote its bid for .africa, particularly during ICANN Meetings. During the ICANN 38 in Brussels, DCA served as one of the event sponsors. The organization also sponsored a delegation from Africa to take part in the policy debate that would help shape the position of the African community on the implementation of ICANN's New gTLD Program.[54]

At ICANN 39 in Cartagena, Columbia on December 2010, Bekele shared a statement during the public forum urging the ICANN Board not to delay the application process for new gTLDs, and enumerated the three key principles that serve as the foundation of DCA's governance for the .africa gTLD. These principles were: 1) branding the African continent's products and services through the .africa gTLD in order to inform people around the world about the positive things Africa has to offer; 2) DCA created “generation.africa” as a theme to empower the youth in Africa, helping them to adapt and use the power of the Internet; and 3) to shift the local domain name market from the US market of .com and .org to Africa, empowered by the DotAfrica registry to be located in the continent.[55]

In March 2011, during the ICANN 40 Meeting in San Francisco, DCA and its delegation introduced its Yes2DotAfrica Campaign. During the event, Bekele spoke to registry vendors about DCA's EOI to apply for .africa. She claimed that majority of the ICANN community supported her initiative. Bekele also said that DCA welcomed all African internet agencies and international partners that were willing to collaborate and provide guidance in the bid to apply for the .africa TLD.[56]

DCA also attended the ICANN 41 Meeting in Singapore in June 2011, and ICANN 42 in Dakar, Senegal in October of 2011 respectively. During these events, Bekele promoted the Yes 2 DotAfrica campaign. In Senegal, the organization provided a booth featuring its vision for the .africa gTLD, and brought in many local youths participating in their generation.africa program.[57][58]

During the Internet Governance Forum in Kenya on July 29, 2010, DCA urged participants to support its .africa application. According to her, "After the high level endorsements we received as per the application, we are now in the process of reaching out to the technical community to gain support based on the merit and the benefits of the initiative, and hoping that such forums as IGF would create a neutral platform for debate and raising issues with the .africa domain name and internet governance." She also said that the DCA governance model is based on the Kenya Network Information Center's (KeNIC) multi-stakeholder model.[59]

DCA Opposes Reserve Names by AU

DCA also went ahead to draw its voice against the reservation [60]. of the names .africa ,.afrique and .afriqya , suggestions that had been forwarded after a ministerial round table that preceded the Senegal ICANN meeting. The Addition of these names to ICANNs reserved list would have jeopardized the .Africa applications in the current new gTLD opening.[61].

The reservation of these names would have meant that all the applications of the .africa gTLD would have been annulled , however in a response ICANN officials promised to follow the Applicants Guide Book to the later in making all the decisions that would affect any new prospective gTLD. ICANN responded[62] to the Communique presented by the officials of the Pre-Senegal Ministerial roundtable, eventually the names were not reserved .

Africa presented 17 applications and dotafrica was among them.

Application to ICANN

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.[63]

  1. "..the understanding as presently clarified by this communication is that DCA Trust has applied for the same 'Africa' geographical name string as UniForum and this will be confirmed by the outcome of the Independent String Similarity Panel who will review "applied-for gTLD strings against other applied-for gTLD strings. It is ridiculous for anyone to suggest that DCA Trust has applied for .dotAfrica as a geographic name without seeing the exact details of the underlying application which is yet to be evaluated by ICANN or considering the stipulations of the Guidebook regarding String Similarity Reviews and how String Contention Sets are arrived at.[64][65], [66]

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.

Note: Application to ICANN for DCA "AFRICA" geo-string is indicated as ".africa" during the ICANN reveal date, on the ICANN website, dated 15 June 2012. [67] To minimize public confusion the company issued immediate press release to clarify its position on the matter.[68] In October 2012, DotConnectAfrica Trust (DCA Trust) received a change to their string to ".africa" from ".dotafrica".The change was officially approved by ICANN at the time when DCA was clarifying about the error in its application.[69] [70][71] During that time the competitive applicant for .africa was claiming that ICANN had confirmed that there is only one applicant for the .africa TLD).[72]The ICANN update can be viewed at the New gTLD Current Application Status page.[73]

Benefits to Africa:

The DotAfrica (.africa) names are meant to benefit everybody - individuals, companies, large multinationals, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, etc. It is suited to the needs and requirements of every type of organization. Anyone with an association with Africa can use it. For example, the United Nations can register un.africa to show its projects and activities in Africa, and an organization such as Safaricom, can register safaricom.africa to show its operational presence in different African countries. Similarly, Barclays Bank can register barclays.africa, so we expect creativity in the introduction, adoption and use of such .africa names for branding and market/territorial association with Africa in rather unique ways. DotAfrica (.africa) domain names will be useful for branding of products and services for the enormous benefit of organizations and individuals that have an enduring stake in Africa thereby providing a very unique African on-line identity.

According to DCA, the establishment of a world-class registry services in an African country has many benefits for direct foreign investment, technology transfer, technical capacity building, employment generation, domestic income generation, lowering of service/usage costs for domain name registrants, and conservation of foreign exchange. To ensure the satisfaction of a corporate social responsibility component, surpluses shall be ploughed into projects that would benefit local communities including development of local ICT skills and Internet-related projects. DCA’s Presentations, speeches and publications to educated and create awareness of the benefit of the .africa gTLD is chronicled on their website at,[74][75]

Controversies over Wikipedia Sites

In October 2012, DCA published a press release saying that their Wikipedia sites willfully sabotaged. Entries on DCA, .africa, and Sophia Bekele, the Executive Director of DotAfrica, were changed. According to DCA, some information that had been unmodified for over five years were removed from Wikipedia and replaced by new versions where DCA's involvement with .africa, DCA's working history, and Bekele's credentials were downplayed.[76]

No Campaign (DotAfrica) ‘NoCampaign.africa’

No Campaign DotAfrica was a concentrated e-mail based protest effort that was undertaken by the Yes2DotAfrica campaign, an initiative of the DotConnectAfrica Organization (DCA) ostensibly to counter the perceived threat posed to DCA’s standing and prospective application to ICANN for the new DotAfrica generic Top Level Domain (gTLD). The No Campaign featured high drama and ran from 2010 and peaked in the fall of 2011, when DCA circulated many No Campaigns to its readers. [77][78] [79][80][81][82][83]

Most observers praised [84]. DCA for its commitment to transparency which was evident in the content of the No Campaigns. Other analysts severely criticized DCA for running a negative campaign and for naming names [85]. in its email circulations. Because of such criticisms, DCA was forced on several occasions to defend itself and explain why it had to embark on the No Campaign[86]

NO Campaign against the AU Task Force: Since some of the key people involved in the competing proposals for DotAfrica had also organized themselves into a Taskforce[87] to advise and guide the AU on matters regarding the DotAfrica gTLD. DCA also undertook concerted ‘No Campaigns’ against the individuals in the Task Force and the Task Force itself.[88][89][90] The AU DotAfrica Task Force drew its membership from different organizations representing the African Internet community. [91]. Since DCA was not included in the AU Task Force, it saw it as not only unrepresentative, but saw its members as a ‘Cabal’ whose only interest was to hijack DotAfrica for its benefit. [92]. DCA further argued that since the Task Force members could not be relied upon to provide impartial advice to the AU, they were guilty of Conflict of Interest since they were affiliated to many other organizations in addition to affiliations to African ccTLDs,[93][94] including having floated separate DotAfrica proposals of their own[95] As such, DCA believed that the Task Force or Cabal was not independent and could not be considered legitimate.

NO Campaign against Africa Top Level Domains Organization (AFTLD):

The rivalry between DCA and AfTLD to gain the endorsement of the African Union Commission to serve as the operator and sponsoring organization of the DotAfrica gTLD turned nasty. DCA has alleged that the AfTLD is corrupt and is using double dealing to unfairly get the endorsement from AUC, as members of AFTLD are also part of the AU DotAfrica Taskforce, who were in charge of making the selection. In response, AfTLD claimed that DCA is using intimidation tactics. When the African Union announced that a Task Force was created and delegated to choose the right organization to be endorsed by the AUC for the DotAfrica project, DCA reacted negatively and accused that the Task Force was "established in order to disingenuously facilitate insider help for AfTLD’s Expression of Interest to the AU and prospective bid to ICANN." In addition, DCA claimed that some of the members of the Task Force including Pierre Dandjinou and Nii Quaynor are "advisors and confederates of AfTLD," and strongly emphasized that their ties are "unwholesome and foster corruption, nepotism, abuse of office, and large-scale illegality." Furthermore, DCA launched a campaign against Nii Quaynor.[96][97][98][99]

Objection to DCA Application

GAC Early warning: In November 21, 2012 DotConnectAfrica’s application received 17 early warnings. More than 240 individual GAC Early Warnings were issued in relation to 200 new TLD applications which account for 162 unique strings. The warnings noted to be of similar verbatim were received from African countries namely, Comoros, Kenya, Cameroun, DRC, Benin, Egypt; Gabon, Bourkina Faso, Ghana, Morocco, Mali, Uganda, Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria and Tanzania and the African Union.

In their December 12, 2012 response[100] to the GAC early warnings, DotConnectAfrica noted that “We believe that the governments were teleguided (or manipulated) into submitting these GAC Early Warning Advice, and as such, cannot really be considered as authentic in most cases. It is simply the outcome of a coordinated action which African country governments are being coerced to support, and we believe that actual governmental consultations with respective African country governments has not been done in many cases”

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 we reached at.

DotConnectAfrica application received a GAC Objection advice which they submited a response[101] . New gTLD Program Committee and subsequently gave recommendation that the GAC advice be followed. However the NGPC also gave the organization a channel through which they would appeal by seeking relief according to ICANN’s accountability mechanisms (see ICANN Bylaws, Articles IV and V) subject to the appropriate standing and procedural requirements.

After the objection, DotConnectAfrica refused to back down and contacted the African Union as well as ICANN.[102] [103]. DCA also requested for a Reconsideration which ICANN denied prompting that organization to begin the Independent Review Process[104][105][106]

IRP Process: DCA Vs ICANN

During ICANN new gTLDs initial evaluation of applications, DotConnectAfrica’s application passed all the evaluation criteria including Financial, Technical and Operational Capability Evaluation Panels. Its application was stopped due to the governmental objections effected at the ICANN Beijing meeting. DCA also requested for a Reconsideration which ICANN denied prompting that organization to begin the Independent Review Process. In January 2014, DotConnectAfrica Trust filed for an independent review of its application.[107][108][109]


IRP Injunction awarded DCA: DotConnectAfrica Trust (DCA) has won Round one in its case against ICANN for the ".africa" domain. The win stems from the fact that DCA received an Injunction it requested in its IRP Proceedings in an arbitration process, and 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.[110][111] [112][113][114][115]

Panel accepts DCA’s position on procedural framework on DotAfrica IRP: The IRP panel on 14 August 2014, issued a Thirty Three (33) Pages ruling[116] to accept DotConnectAfrica’s position on the procedural framework of the IRP proceedings. The Panel has ruled terming its Declaration and the future Declaration on the Merits of the case are binding on ICANN. (ICANN wanted this to be “advisory” and not “binding”. 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.[117] [118] [119] [120][121]

DCA Trust Prevails in IRP Panel’s Final Declaration:

On July 9 2015 The IRP panel made its final ruling which declared DotConnectAfrica as the prevailing party of the DCA Trust Vs ICANN IRP.[122]

The panel made the following concluding declarations:

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. [123][124][125] [126][127][128][129][130][131]

Letter to U.S. Congress

Following communication sent to ICANN and the African Union[132], 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 create an independent New gTLD Ombudsman for the entire ICANN New gTLD program, where such grievances will be heard and addressed[133]

References

  1. About DCA
  2. Mission
  3. Mission
  4. ICANN gala event in Singapore
  5. ".africa" music & dance performance
  6. generation.africa
  7. Generation.africa On their High at IGF Kenya
  8. Generation.africa hailed "Yes2dotAfrica" at DCA's Headquarters in Mauritius
  9. Generation.africa spoke at Tandaa Symposium
  10. Domain .africa at Kampala - "An invasion of armies cannot stop an idea whose time has come"
  11. Yes Campaign
  12. Governance model
  13. Support Letters
  14. DCA Partners With Safaricom And Fincom To Set Up DotAfrica Registry In Kenya
  15. Kenya is set to house the DotAfrica (.africa) Domain
  16. Kenya is set to house the DotAfrica (.africa) Domain
  17. DCA Partners With Safaricom And Fincom To Set Up DotAfrica Registry In Kenya
  18. Kenya is set to house the DotAfrica(.africa) Domain
  19. Kenya is set to house the DotAfrica (.africa) Domain
  20. The DotAfrica Issue, Thoughts from the Founder/Executive Director
  21. DotConnectAfrica lauched its official ".africa" campaign at the AITEC ICT Summit
  22. Africa's Map in Digital Inclusion Presention to ICANN, Lisbon Canada
  23. .Africa's Map in the Digital Inclusion: A Common Voice for Africa By Sophia Bekele
  24. 22 June 2008 – Paris ICANN: DotAfrica Initiative announced at ICANN Paris meeting
  25. African Union Commission Letter, Subject: Endorsement of the Dot Africa (.africa) Initiative
  26. African Union endorses the domain name “.Africa” to DotConnectAfrica Organization
  27. Nairobi Technical Community urged ICANN's strong support for DCA's efforts on '.africa' domain!
  28. Progress towards a ".africa" at ICANN 38, in Brussels the Capital of Europe
  29. Progress towards a ".africa" at ICANN 38, in Brussels the Capital of Europe
  30. ICANN 42 Dakar: Meet the Yes2dotAfrica Campaign in Senegal
  31. Open Letter to US Department of Commerce National Telecommunication Information Administration (NTIA) in support of teh ICANN New gTLD Programme and making a preliminary case for the .africa gTLD
  32. Open Letter to US Department of Commerce National Telecommunication Information Administration (NTIA) in support of teh ICANN New gTLD Programme and making a preliminary case for the .africa gTLD
  33. Be part of our Yes2dotAfrica Campaign,2009-12-09
  34. Join our Pan-African Social Media Site, 2009-12-09
  35. DCA Campaign Presentations and Speeches
  36. DotConnectAfrica News Archive Homepage
  37. PRLog Press Room- DotConnectAfrica
  38. DCA Open Letter to Congress in Defense of the Status Quo on Global Internet Governance Model
  39. 31 October 2011- DotConnectAfrica Executive Briefing Note following the ICANN-42 International Meeting in Dakar, Senegal
  40. 27 October 2011-DotConnectAfrica Statement to ICANN Public Forum in Dakar on issues of Reserved Names for gTLDs and the Multi-Stakeholder process
  41. 9 February 2011- New gTLD Program Milestone Report and Addenda, Joint SO-AC Working Group
  42. 2.September 2011- Applicant Support forNew gTLD
  43. 25 December 2011- Providing Support to applicants requiring assistance in applying for and operating new gTLD
  44. 31 March 2011- Request for Comments on IANA Function
  45. 18 January 2011-Open Letter to US Department of Commerce National Telecommunication Information Administration (NTIA) making a preliminary case for the .africa gTLD
  46. [www.icann.org/en/correspondence/bekele-to-dengate-thrush-18jan11-en.pdf 21 December 2010- DCA statement to ICANN public forum, Cartagena, Colombia]
  47. 25 June 2008 - The .Africa project announced at public forum in Paris, France
  48. 25 June 2008
  49. 13 November 2010- Letter to At-Large Board Candidate Evaluation Committee (BCEC)
  50. 1 February 2008 - Support for the mid-term review of the Joint Project Agreement (JPA) agreement to the Office of Internal Affairs, of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, in Washington DC
  51. COMMUNIQUE: The Africa Union Commission Clarification on Dot Africa
  52. Yes2DotAfrica Say "No" to African Union Expression of Interest (EOI) for DotAfrica
  53. event in Accra
  54. Progress towards a ".africa" at ICANN 38, in Brussels the Capital of Europe
  55. DotConnectAfrica statement to ICANN public forum, Cartegena, Colombia
  56. Yes2dotAfrica Campaign successful at ICANN 40 in San Francisco, CA
  57. DotAfrica (.africa) made History with ICANN in Singapore!
  58. A Successful Yes2dotAfrica Campaign at the ICANN-42 Meeting in Dakar, Senegal!
  59. DotConnnectAfrica calls for support of ".africa" at Kenya Internet Governance Forum (IGF)
  60. Dot Africa soap
  61. DCA Defends its Opposition to the Experts Meeting Agenda of the DotAfrica Task Force
  62. Letter from Steve Crocker to Elham M.A. Ibrahim
  63. ICANN New gTLDs - Application Details
  64. Press Commentary: DCA Trust & UniForum SA have both applied for the same 'Africa' Geographic NameString
  65. Press Commentary: DCA Trust & UniForum SA have both applied for the same 'Africa' Geographic NameString
  66. DotConnectAfrica Clarifies its .africa bid at EAIGF
  67. ICANN New gTLDs - Application Details
  68. DCA Trust and UniForum SA have both applied for the same ‘Africa’ Geographic Name
  69. DCA Trust & UniForum SA have both applied for the same 'Africa' Geographic Name
  70. DotConnectAfrica Clarifies its .africa bid at EAIGF
  71. Goodbye .DOTAFRICA - A significant landmark Victory in the battle for .Africa gTLD
  72. ICANN agrees there is only one applicant for .africa
  73. DotConnectAfrica Application Details: Application ID: 1-1165-42560
  74. DCA Campaign Presentations and Speeches
  75. DCA Announces Establishment of world clas registry
  76. Sabotage of Our Wikipedia Sites. Published 2012 October 1. Retrieved 2012 November 13.
  77. [ http://www.dotconnectafrica.org/yes-campaign/vote-no/vote-no-for-dandjinou/ Vote No to Pierre Danjinou]
  78. [ http://www.dotconnectafrica.org/yes-campaign/vote-no/vote-nii-quaynor/ Vote No to Nii Quaynor]
  79. [ http://www.dotconnectafrica.org/yes-campaign/vote-no/vote-no-to-aftld/ Vote No to AFTLD]
  80. [ http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs053/1102516344150/archive/1105649721626.html Say "No" to African Union "EOI"]
  81. [ http://www.dotconnectafrica.org/yes-campaign/vote-no/african-registry-consortium/ Say "No" to African Registry Consortium (ARC)]
  82. [ http://myemail.constantcontact.com/The-Leopard-Cannot-Change-its-Spots--Say--No--to-the-ARC--African-Registry-Consortium.html?soid=1102516344150&aid=BYYeJN0_fLU Say "No" to African Registry Consortium (ARC)]
  83. Vote No to Africa Union RFP
  84. [ http://www.dotconnectafrica.org/yes-campaign/say-no/vote-no-to-aftld/target="_new" Comments to No Campaigns]
  85. Comments to No Campaigns
  86. [ http://myemail.constantcontact.com/You-asked--We-clarified---Why-our--NO--Campaigns-.html?soid=1102516344150&aid=RFZ6s8G6VSM You asked we clarified]
  87. Document 1B: BCEC- List of Contributors to the Dotafrica.org proposal.
  88. Vote No to Pierre Danjinou
  89. [ http://www.dotconnectafrica.org/yes-campaign/vote-no/vote-nii-quaynor/ Vote No to Nii Quaynor]
  90. [ http://www.dotconnectafrica.org/yes-campaign/vote-no/vote-no-to-aftld/ Vote No to AFTLD]
  91. [ http://www.scribd.com/doc/42164360/Document-BCEC-1B-dotafrica-communique DotAfrica Task Force.]
  92. Say "No" to the CABAL (special-interest coalitions) that is trying to hijack DotAfrica!
  93. Competition for .africa heats up.
  94. [ http://www.ethiopianreview.com/articles/35281 DCA to challenge AfTLD on dotAfrica domain.]
  95. Document 1B: BCEC- List of Contributors to the Dotafrica.org proposal.
  96. “Corruption” claims as .africa fight heats up
  97. “Dot .AFRICA gTLD PROJECT : BRANDING THE AFRICAN CONTINENT ON THE CYBERSPACE AND PROVIDING AFRICAN COMMUNITY WITH A CONTINENTAL MARK ON THE INTERNET”
  98. DCA’s Exclusive Commentary to the AfTLD PR following the Ghana Meeting
  99. Say "No" to Nii Quaynor, Vice Chair of African Union ".africa" Taskforce
  100. GAC Early Warning Response. Published 2012 Dec 5. Retrieved 2012 Dec 5.
  101. GAC Advice Response. Published 2013 May 22. Retrieved 2013 May 22.
  102. A delayed evaluation "pass" score for .Africa competition.
  103. Request for Immediate Reconsideration and Our Response to NGPC Resolution.
  104. Independent Review Process.
  105. DCA Trust Takes '.africa' Case With Icann to Independent Review Process Panel.
  106. DCA Trust takes “.africa” case with ICANN to Independent Review Process (IRP) Panel.
  107. DCA Trust takes “.africa” case with ICANN to Independent Review Process (IRP) Panel
  108. DCA Trust Takes '.africa' Case With Icann to Independent Review Process Panel
  109. DCA Trust V ICANN
  110. DCA Trust wins first round against ICANN in injunction on DotAfrica domain
  111. dotAfrica launch further delayed by DotConnectAfrica injunction
  112. DCA Receives an Injunction It Requested in Its IRP Proceedings
  113. Breaking: DotConnectAfrica wins .africa injunction against ICANN in first new gTLD IRP case
  114. DCA Trust Wins First Round Against Icann in Injunction On Dotafrica Domain
  115. Tribunal freezes ICANN processing on .africa: Independent Review Panel Rules in favor of DotConnectAfrica
  116. IRP Panel’s Declaration of the IRP Procedure
  117. Panel accepts DCA’s position on procedural framework on DotAfrica IRP
  118. Africa: Panel Accepts DCA's Position On Procedural Framework On Dotafrica IRP
  119. [http://www.thedomains.com/2014/08/16/irp-panels-declaration-of-the-irp-procedure-in-the-case-of-dotconnect-africa-trust-vs-icann/ IRP Panel’s Declaration of the IRP Procedure in the case of DotConnect Africa Trust vs ICANN]
  120. Panel’s Declaration of the IRP Procedure Panel interprets Declarations as binding on the .Africa IRP, Lectures ICANN on core accountability implications
  121. DotConnectAfrica Update: IRP Panel Rules to Accept DCA's Position On Procedural Framework
  122. IRP Panel’s Final Declaration
  123. Unredacted: ICANN's hidden role in fierce battle over .Africa rights
  124. DCA Trust IRP Decision: ICANN Failed the Global Internet Community
  125. [1]
  126. ICANN Loses Independent Review Panel Decision For Unfairly Treating TLD Applicant & Improper Deference to Governments
  127. ICANN loses .Africa case: IRP panel rules in favor of DCA
  128. DCA Trust wins .africa IRP, ICANN to pay over Kshs 60 million in costs
  129. Breaking: DotConnectAfrica Trust victorious on its challenge of ICANN Board over .africa
  130. East Africa: DCA Trust Wins .Africa IRP, ICANN to Pay Over Kshs 60 Million in Costs
  131. Review Panel Chides ICANN Board, Government Reps
  132. DCA Letter: Opposition to the Application by UniForum ZA Central Registry for the .AFRICA gTLD Published & Retrieved 12 July 2012
  133. DCA Letter to US Congress about Africa,DotConnectAfrica.org Published & Retrieved 22 Feb 2013