This response comes after ZACR learnt that Icann has allowed Dot Connect Africa Trust (DCA) to change its TLD string application from “dotafrica” to “africa”, meaning there are now two bidders for the newly proposed generic Top Level Domain (gTLD), .africa.
Also important to note is that ZACR does not intend to object these new developments. It is however surprised by Icann’s silence and lack of communication on the matter, as expressed by the organisation’s Public Relations representative, Octavia Kumalo, while speaking to HumanIPO.
Kumalo states that despite this new development, they (ZACR) are the only bidders who have the statutory support of 60 percent of Africa’s governments -- as required by ICANN in applying for a geographic name gTLD.
She further points out to HumanIPO that she’s a bit surprised that DCA claims to have this support when earlier during the process, DCA issued a well publicized statement on the Internet stating it will not participate in the African Union’s (AU) Expression Of Interest (EOI) process for those interested in applying for the .africa gTLD.
In the statement, DCA raised questions about what they then believed to be “a process that lacks probity, and hereby serves notice that it would not participate in the current process which has no credibility.”
This, Kumalo says, points to the mixed messages that DCA are sending out. At first, DCA claimed that the AU EOI process lacked probity and credibility and now turn around saying that they have the required support of African governments through the AU.
As things stand, hence their confidence, only ZACR have this support and Kumalo also highlights: “the question on who has government support should be answered on November 20, 2012 when the GAC issues its Early Warning notices.”
Icann’s Early Warning is a notice from members of its Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) that an application is seen as potentially sensitive or problematic by one or more governments. Thus, this process that is expected to take place later this month, will shed light on DCA’s claims that they do have the required support similar to or better than that of ZACR.
In concluding the discussion, Kumalo pointed HumanIPO to a communique by the African Union Comission (AUC), which states that: “In fulfilling its mandate from African governments the AUC has, in accordance with an open and transparent Request for Proposal (RFP) process, officially endorsed UniForum SA t/a the ZA Central Registry (ZACR) to apply for and launch the dotAFRICA (.AFRICA) TLD.”
It further reads: Furthermore, UniForum/ZACR’s application, as endorsed by the AUC, is correctly designated as a geographic application in accordance with the criteria and processes outlined by ICANN in the Applicant Guidebook.
In particular: Africa (and therefore .Africa) is a clearly designated geographic area as defined in the UNESCO “Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings” list.
Therefore the designation of the official dotAFRICA (.AFRICA) TLD string application, as a geographic name, is technically and procedurally correct.
The "geographic evaluation process" that this application is subject to, provides sufficient checks and balances for the protection of interests and rights of African governments and the Pan-African community.”
This, beyond any doubt, seems proof that there is only one bidder possessing the full support of the majority of African governments to administer the .africa gTLD. Suggesting perhaps that DCA shot itself in the foot by choosing not to participate in the AU EOI, as well its misplay applying for .dotafrica instead of .africa.