Thursday, 6 August 2015

DotConnectAfrica gTLD application process moves on

From the AGIP July Bulletin (published by Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property) comes this news about the .AFRICA generic top-level domain (gTLD):
ICANN to Resume Evaluation of DotConnectAfrica Trust Application for .AFRICA

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced in a press release that it will resume evaluation of DotConnectAfrica Trust's (DCA's) application for the .AFRICA new generic top-level domain.

ICANN's Board of Directors convened a special meeting on 16 July 2015 to quickly address an independent review panel's declaration that held in favor of DotConnectAfrica Trust regarding certain claims about its .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.
As such, the Board has directed staff to take all steps necessary to resume the evaluation of DCA's application for .AFRICA and to ensure that such evaluation proceeds in accordance with the established process(es) as quickly as possible.

"I want to thank the panel for their efforts and careful deliberation of this matter," said Steve Crocker, ICANN's Chairman of the Board. "Though these proceedings have been lengthy and delayed the launch of the .AFRICA top-level domain, the independent review process is an integral part of ICANN's community-developed accountability mechanisms, which are fundamental safeguards in ensuring that ICANN's bottom-up, multistakeholder model remains effective."

Dr. Crocker further noted, "Our commitment to ICANN's African stakeholders remains strong. As this advances to final resolution, we will assist in moving this process forward as rapidly as possible and provide all parties with the certainties they are looking for and deserve."

The next step in the process for DCA is to complete Initial Evaluation, a phase of the New gTLD Program in which multiple independent panels, including a panel dedicated to geographic names, review an application to ensure it meets the requirements in the Applicant Guidebook.

With respect to the Governmental Advisory Committee's (GAC's) consensus advice in the Beijing Communiqué that DCA's application for .AFRICA should not proceed, the Board will ask the GAC if it wishes to refine that advice and/or provide the board with further information regarding that advice and/or otherwise address the concerns raised in the Declaration.
Background to the DotConnectAfrica application and the objections raised in respect of it can be found on Wikipedia here.  This blogger, who is not based in Africa, senses that there have been political issues at stake as well as those relating to compliance with ICANN requirements.

One final point: noting the statement of Steve Crocker that "Our commitment to ICANN's African stakeholders remains strong", this blogger was wondering precisely who these stakeholders are and how the determination of stakeholders in the vast and varied continent of Africa was made.  Answers, anyone?

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