|Lucky Masilela, CEO |
Calvin Browne, Director UniForum SA
Neil Dundas, Director & Policy Advisor UniForum SA
Koffi Fabrice Djossou
ZA Central Registry (ZACR) trading as Registry.Africa is an applicant for the .africa geoTLD in ICANN's New gTLD Program. In February 2012, UniForum SA was selected by the African Union as the preferred registry operator for the TLD, following the submission of proposals to the Union in December 2011.
The company has been a silver sponsor for every ICANN meeting since ICANN 42 in March 2012 in San Jose, Costa Rica.
The African Union held an Extraordinary Session of the African Union Conference of Ministers in charge of Communications and Information Technologies on November 5, 2009, in Johannesburg, South Africa in order to discuss the benefits of a .africa TLD with representatives from the African community at large. As a result of the session, a resolution was adopted, called The Oliver Tambo Declaration, to "establish dotAfrica as a continental Top-Level Domain for use by organizations, businesses and individuals with guidance from African Internet agencies." The declaration was further endorsed at the Head of States and Governments Summit in January, 2012.
At the Third Ordinary Session of the African Union Conference of Ministers in charge of Communication and Information Technologies, held in Abuja, Nigeria, in August 2010, a resolution called the The Abuja Declaration was adopted, which requested that the AU "set up the structure and modalities for the implementation of the DotAfrica project." To implement this decision, the AU set up a DotAfrica Task Force composed of knowledgeable African representatives from the industry, which made the following two recommendations: 1) for the AU to apply for .africa through the first round of ICANN's New gTLD Program, and 2) for the AU to make a public call for EOIs to run the domain name on behalf of the AU. Through this process, the AU selected UniForum SA.
On April 4th, 2012, Dr. Elham M. A. Ibrahim, the Commissioner of Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union informed Uniforum SA, trading as ZA Central Registry (ZACR) of its official appointment as the "Official Applicant and Registry Operator for dotAfrica gTLD. UniForum SA/ZACR submitted all application materials to ICANN on June 13, 2012.
Their mission and objective was outlined in their application and include:
- establishing a world class domain name registry by engaging African technology and expertise
- creating a gTLD that marks Africa's online identity, and reflects the continent's rich diversity and potential
- positioning the dotAfrica gTLD as the preferred option for citizens and business located in Africa or strongly associated with the continent
- emphasizing that the new gTLD would be "by Africa, for Africa"
Prior to ICANN's implementation of the new gTLD program, another registry, DotConnectAfrica (DCA) submitted a competing 'private' application to ICANN for the dotAfrica gTLD. On October 29th, 2018, DCA contacted the Chairperson of the AUC seeking support for its application for the dotAfrica gTLD, stating that "collaboration of the AU (with ICANN) will be a necessity if not a prerequisite" due to the impending program requirement changes.
After an initial meeting with the Chairperson from the AUC, DCA contacted the Chairperson again by letter on July 31st, 2009 seeking an endorsement letter. The AUC responded favorably initially, but later retracted its support after consulting with 'relevant stakeholders', further stating that they would implement an open process for all applicants. DCA responded by stating "we fully support the open process and are quite confident based on our due diligence to date, to be one of the leading contenders.
After the AUC's 'Call for Expression of Interest in May of 2011, DCA responded to the open process negatively, stating that the actions of the AUC were not "transparent and accountable" and that their previous endorsement was still applicable. In response, the AUC stated that DCA's continued persistence would create an "unwarranted and unecessary intrustion on the AUC's mandate."
In Novermber 2012, the AUC proceeded to submit a GAC Early Warning against DCA's application. Many African countries followed suit. The GAC then created the Beijing Communique which confirmed an official 'Objection' to DCA's application. ICANN's NGPC accepted the conclusion of the GAC's communique and suggested that DCA not proceed. Consequently, ICANN determined the application should not be approved.
The assignment of .Africa to a Registry is still on hold at this time. A decision, yet to be made by the IRP (Independent Review Panel) will no doubt greatly impact the development of Africa's presence on the Internet.
The Steering Committee was established to provide leadership and oversight for the application and launch process for the .africa TLD, and provides 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 industries in Africa.
The members of the Steering Committee are:
- Mohamed El Bashir, Chairman, representing Sudan
- Adiel Akplogan, representing AfriNIC and Mauritius
- Mohamed Tijani Ben Jemaa, representing AFRALO and Tunisia
- Barrack Otieno, representing AfTLD and 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 Registry.Africa
The .africa bid submitted by Registry.Africa is endorsed by the following African countries:
- UniForum SA to administer .africa domain, mybroadband.co.za
- Extraordinary Conference of AU ICT Ministers, eafricacommission.org
- The African Union and dotAfrica, africainonespace.com
- [Tilting at Windmills: Separating Fact from Fiction in the Joust for the New dotAfrica gTLD. Hurter, Eddie. 2015]
- Steering Committee, africainonespace.org