FAQs on .Africa application

Welcome to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page on .Africa. To read, click the title bar on any question to expand the text area. If you have any difficulty, send your inquiries to support(at)dotconnectafrica.org

FAQs .Africa

The A “top-level” domain,TLD, is what comes after the last dot in a domain name. The most commonly known top-level domains are .COM, .NET, .ORG, .INFO and .BIZ. There are also country-specific top-level domains, such as .ET for Ethiopia, .EG for Egypt and .KE for Kenya.

In June 26, 2008 ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a non-profit organization formed to manage the technical concerns of the Internet) adopted the policy recommendations of the gNSO (Generic Names Supporting Organization, one of the groups that coordinate global internet policy at ICANN ) for the establishment of the new gTLDs and announced the “Biggest Domain Name Expansion” in the history of the Internet. Thus opening the domain space to allow any public or private organization from anywhere in the world to register any string of letters as a gTLD (Generic Top Level Domain).

On June 20th 2011, the ICANN Board of Directors approved the new gTLD program that will allow brands, organizations ,regions and communities to turn their own brands or names into Top Level Domain name extensions or create broad generic strings like .car .cafe etc.

ICANN has opened the Internet’s addressing system to the limitless possibilities of the human imagination. No one can predict where this historic decision will take us,” said Rod Beckstrom, President and Chief Executive Officer of ICANN during the occasion.

.AFRICA names can contain the English-language letters A through Z, and the digits 0 through 9. You can also use hyphens, but hyphens cannot begin or end your domain name. Spaces and special characters (such as !, $, &, ? and so on) are never permitted. The minimum length is 3 characters, and the maximum length is 63 characters

Brief profile

The DotAfrica Group makes up an integrative model of various Internet-centered digital products and services encompassing Domain Registry services, that handles Internet TLD registry and DNS businesses; new media and multimedia services as well as mobile applications along with an integrated digital social media platforms and an education platform under DCA Academy, that is managed by the organization.

DotConnectAfrica Trust is an independent, non-profit and non-partisan organization that is Head Quarted in Port Louis, Mauritius, Africa (Reg.ID CT8710DCA90) with its registry operations located in Nairobi, Kenya. Its main charitable objects are: (a) for the advancement of education in information technology to the African society; and (b) in connection with (a) to provide the African society with a continental Internet domain name to have access to Internet services for the people of Africa as a purpose beneficial to the public in general. Through its affiliate DCA Registry Services Ltd. DCA Trust intends to channel surplus resources gained from the .Africa registry operation to sponsor foundations that will cater to various charitable projects including the already launched miss.africa and generation.africa, as well as capacity building for African ccTLDs, with the general objective of improving the African Internet and business landscape.

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. Read More

In the interest of benefiting the development of new industry and market throughout Africa, and empowering African jobs and wealth creation DCA Registry Services (Kenya) Ltd has partnered with a world’s pioneering UK based domain registry operator CentralNic, to deliver superior domain registry services that are based on the latest Extensible Provisioning Protocol (EPP), and supported with RGP, DNSSEC.  No other registry provider has such an experience in Africa , so the technology transfer component is very critical.

Locally, DCA Registry has partnered with first class local Kenya hosting companies Safaricom  for the co-location of mission critical computer hardware and network technical infrastructure that would support the registry functions of .Africa gTLD.   This consortium is what places DCA Registry at a unique position than its competition.  The competition is a national operator only with no experience outside South Africa, plus they are ccTLD operators and no requisite gTLD

CentralNic

CentralNic provides registry services, distribution, and strategic consultancy for new TLDs, ccTLDs and SLDs. Key features of CentralNic’s system include:

• IPv6 support (both registry and DNS);

• full internationalised domain name (IDN) support since 2000; and

• DNS servers in over 40 different countries to provide confidence of ongoing 100 per cent. uptime, regardless of man made or natural disasters.

CentralNic which both ISO 27001 (information security management) and ISO 9001 (quality management system) accredited is currently supporting 60 gTLD applications including .wiki, .bar, .xyz, .rest (for restaurants) and .ink. It also uses an in-house developed IT platform to distribute it own portfolio of 24 domain names including .uk.com, .us.com and .cn.com (China) to a global network of "1500 registrars" (retailers such as Network Solutions, LLC), which sell these to end users. We also use this platform to sell domain names owned by third parties including .la for Los Angeles, .pw and .com.de (Germany). Further, CentralNic provides consultancy services to companies seeking to create their own domains.

Safaricom

Safaricom is a leading provider of converged communication solutions, operating on a single business driver providing a broad range of first-class products and services for Telephony, EDGE, Broadband Internet and Fax, and therefore has a peerless understanding of voice, video and data operations. Being a Unified Services Provider it is the largest stakeholder in the submarine cables system, and also a pioneer in the world, renowned for its mobile money transfer services “Mpesa” – a ‘bank less’ financial service. Safaricom also runs a successful domain name business and markets the .co.ke ccTLD amongst other leading domains like .com. It also operates a large datacenter facility in Kenya and is the largest carrier for inbound and outbound traffic within the East Africa region.

Fincom

Fincom is a leading one stop Kenyan based IT firm incorporated in 2003. It provides and maintains complete ICT professional services, consultancy, project management, structured networking, LAN/WAN audit/design, data center design among others. It supplies and integrates servers from leading manufacturers namely HP, IBM & DELL as well as Cisco routers, switches and IP PBXs. FinCom is renowned for Storage and Networking expertise within the ICT industry in Kenya. With its reputation, Fincom important clients include the leading firms in the banking and microfinance sector, ICT industry and general business.

Kenya is the prime location for the .Africa registry because apart from having over four (4) efficient, carrier-grade optic fibre links connecting the country to high-speed global networks, no country compares to Kenya in terms of accessibility to the five (5) sub-regions of Africa, and its membership of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) also provides further distinctive advantages in terms of market access and coverage. Kenya’s capital Nairobi is a world-class city which hosts the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the diplomatic offices of other important regional and inter-governmental bodies.

Kenya is a key strategic country for the development of Internet in Africa. Kenya is also home to many innovative flagship projects like M-PESA and the ‘SiliconSavannah’

As an investor, the DotConnectAfrica Group, which includes the DCA Registry Services Ltd. believes that the creation of national economic growth prospects and jobs remains a priority for our organization and we will continue to work with the incoming government of Kenya to unlock the unparalleled potential of the technology market in Kenya.

DotConnectAfrica Group has been working in close cooperation with the Government of Kenya, Universities, students, businesses, media and civic society in Kenya, so as to further strengthen Internet policy , access and business development. DCA specially recognizing the position of Kenya in the East African Region and Africa at Large as a growing ICT Hub, are currently working with other businesses to jointly develop new innovations and address emerging technology challenges, giving priority to the development and support of women and youth.

From the country benefits point of view, DCA Trust's decision to locate the technical infrastructure and operations centre of our initiative in Kenya benefits the country in various forms and at various levels, such as, increased Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Foreign Technology Transfer; Employment opportunities for Kenyans; Strategic and service partnerships with important Kenyan technology & services providers such as Safaricom Limited and other local technology businesses. Global and continent-wide popularization of Kenyan technological innovation such as the MPESA – mobile payment platform which shall be used as the payment mechanism to be adopted for the settlement of Registry Transactions; the establishment of the first Pan-African Internet gTLD Registry in Kenya, thereby broadening and consolidating the country’s national prestige and image as an important global ICT centre. These were the justifications that were presented to obtain DCA Trust's endorsements from the Offices of His Excellency Hon. Samuel Phogisio.

Under the popular 6 year Yes2dotAfrica Campaign DotConnectAfrica championed the .AFRICA domain based on 3 principles, that is:

a) To consolidate Africa's on-line identity and is useful for branding products and services from Africa. This represents a huge potential for businesses, corporations, individuals, etc. .Africa will be introduced as one of the new Top-Level Domains under ICANN's Internet expansion programme.

b) To create shift in industry from US market of .com and .org to Africa empowered by the .africa registry to Africa, which is to be housed locally in the continent. This will mean development of new industry and market for Africa empowering African jobs and wealth creation.

c) Through its affiliate DCA Registry Services Ltd. DotConnectAfrica (DCA) intends to channel surplus resources gained from the .Africa registry operation to sponsor foundations that will cater to various pan African charitable projects including the already launched the Miss.Africa and Generation.Africa, as well as capacity building for African ccTLDs, with the general objective of improving the African Internet and business landscape. This year the Miss.Africa program released a fund totalling to 7000USD to programs across Africa, this are grants to support women and girls in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields to launch or expand their own initiatives that will increase their digital opportunities in IT related training, jobs and leadership roles. See the press release here: http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs123/1102516344150/archive/1124054021053.html

Therefore DotConnectAfrica (DCA) Trust believes .Africa domain should be available for use by those who wish to establish a continental presence. Having a domain linked to Africa could also increase online content generation, and a properly managed registration system would establish regulations on registration, intellectual property, dispute resolution and promotion of ICT in the entire African continent.

Aside from the fact that DCA Trust pioneered the great vision to .Africa for Africa more than seven (7) years ago, with a global awareness campaign that cost millions in investment, DCA Trust was also the first to also articulate the governance and policy model for .Africa and the first to get endorsement by the Regional Pan African organizations based on all those fundamentals.  DCA Trust then built partnerships to propose for a superior technical, business and financial solution.

DCA is uniquely qualified to be entrusted in running the .Africa internet domain on behalf of the Continent based on the following (8) grounds:

Matrix Summary

DCA Superior Solutions Offerings Matrix

IMAGE: Please feel free to use this image for your story for DCA: =http://ih.constantcontact.com/fs053/1102516344150/img/139.png?a=1111195813946

For DCA Registry Website, click here: DCA Registry

In conclusion, based on the aforementioned, including DCA’s legitimate endorsements required by the ICANN, and the superior combination of technical, financial, business, contingency and country consortium that DCA put together, allows us to pass the benefit of a low price and superior service to our registrants. Additionally, the PanAfrican experienced leadership team, and the vase contributions and competencies we have demonstrated for many years on governance issues, including matters on internet governance policy and .Africa gTLD itself, uniquely places DCA to operate the .Africa gTLD space.

DCA believes that all of the above conditions are key and mutually inclusive in to delivering the .Africa project successfully to the benefit of the African global public. Our national, continental and international reach and experience on broad areas of discipline is key to a successful PanAfrica project that is governed by a non-governmental body with an International policy oversight.

The solution provided by our competition on the other hand with double the pricing model only affords an inferior service delivery and contingency operation model. In addition to that, being a national ccTLD operator, there is a lack of experience outside South Africa as well as no requisite experience as a gTLD operator. Therefore, there is a risk in service delivery at a PanAfrican level. Overall DCA’s position is unmatched at all levels by our competitors.

Publicly available information and comparison on the best available .africa provider.

DotConnectAfrica Trust
Link to Application to ICANN:
  Uniforum ZACR
Link to Application to ICANN:
Not for profit, non-partisan
HQ: Neutral Country, Mauritius
  Not for Profit, Partisan to Government
HQ: Johannesburg, South .Africa
-.Africa Campaign started 2006
- Low cost of registration names
- US$10.00 as the unit price
- Interests of users & registrants first
  -.Africa Campaign started 2012
-High cost of registration names
- US$18.00 as the unit price
- Interest of user & registrants last
Registry Continued Operations Instrument (COI) to the tune of USD$300,000.00   Registry Continued Operations Instrument (COI) limited amount to only USD$140,000.00
Non-partisan Vision ensuring user privacy concerns   Governmental Vision, Monopoly, risk to user privacy and freedom of speech
Satisfies all the technical, operational and financial criteria of the ICANN new gTLD programme
.
Endorsement: Endorsed by AUC early in 2009, the UNECA in 2008 and some African Governments.
  In serious violations to the ICANN new generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) guidelines.
.
Endorsement: Appointed by AUC in 2012 to apply on behalf of African community, but did not.
Mission & Purpose of application – Authentic -DotAfrica gTLD proposed a standard, open, generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) that serves the diverse needs and purposes of the global Internet community, but with special focus on promoting Internet use in Africa. DCA was True to its Campaign & Mission. Mission and Purpose of application – Allegedly Mislead the African Union Commission (AUC) and African Community & other Stakeholders. UniForum received a letter of appointment from the African Union Commission to make its application for .AFRICA on behalf of the African Community, but UNIFORUM subverted from its Campaign & Mission.
Founder of miss.africa to empower women   None
Founder of generation.africa to empower youth   None
Experienced foreign gTLD Registry partnership for technology transfer   No Technology Transfer, No gTLD registry experience, .ZA ccTLD experience only
SafariCom partnership for Mpesa mobile payment for the un-banked   No program for the un-banked

The above comparison is a report provided by DomainNewsAfrica on the differences between DCA Trust and ZACR application and solutions: http://domainnewsafrica.com/your-africa-identity-dotconnectafrica-ranks-a-superior-solution-than-uniforum-zacr-compare-your-benefits/

Legal entities within the African region (defined by ICANN as Africa region; see http://www.icann.org/montreal/geo-regions-topic.htm) can register names under .AFRICA TLD.

DCA’s principal objective is that all projected cost benefits in terms of affordable domain name pricing should directly accrue to users and registrants of the .Africa new gTLD; and that all users and registrants should benefit from more easily affordable domain names that are optimally priced, and registration fees should be comparable to the global price of existing gTLD domain names in such extensions like .com, .org, and .net which are typically priced at US$9.99 or less from global resellers of gTLD domain names. DCA’s domain pricing approach is therefore in line with the global standard with a view to ensuring that Africans and other prospective global users of .Africa can afford these domain names.

With user affordability in mind, DCA Trust proposed the sum of US$10.00 as the registration cost per standard domain name in the new .Africa gTLD extension. We also provided the hefty sum of US$300,000.00 (Three Hundred Thousand United States of America Dollars) as a financial guarantee for the mandatory Registry Continued Operations Instrument (COI) required by ICANN to ensure user and registrant protection in the event of registry business failure. The Registry COI amount would be utilized to enable ICANN safely transition the operation of the .Africa gTLD registry to an approved Emergency Back-End Registry Operator (EBERO) thus ensuring uninterrupted registry services for users and registrants.

In comparison however, UniForum ZA Central Registry application for the .Africa new gTLD, they have unequivocally stated that “Initial registration fees are estimated to be in the region of US$18 per year”, which will put .Africa domain names out of the reach of ordinary Africans, against the backdrop that Africa has many low-income economies. UniForum could be almost accused of inexcusable profiteering based on its exorbitant US$18.00 unit domain name registration price. Even so, UniForum’s COI amount of US$140,000.00 is far lower than DCA’s more robust US$300,000.00 for the Registry Continued Operations Instrument (COI). In contrasting the financial details of the two competing applications, DCA Trust has quoted a lower domain name registration price with a larger COI amount, whilst UniForum ZA Central Registry on the other hand, has quoted a higher domain name registration price with a smaller COI amount. UniForum’s financial plan is evidently to the serious disadvantage of users who shall be forced against their will to pay a higher domain name registration fee without making any adequate provisions to put in place a sufficiently large Registry COI amount to protect users and registrants from the risk of registry business failure.

The financial proposal is confidential as per ICANN requirement. However, .Africa pre-registration numbers, as tracked by one of the top registrars United Domains in 2012 was one of the top 50 “hottest” amongst the 1500 applied for domains at ICANN, as a result of DotConnectAfrica (DCA) Trust's Yes2dotAfrica campaign. Therefore given the opportunity, DCA is well suited to promote the .africa name. See the below links:

The pre-registrations are mostly non-governmental. They are businesses and general African public.

The history is quite lengthy but the short of it is that DotConnectAfrica (DCA) Trust's application was stopped prematurely by ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) censuses advice, without due diligence of our endorsements , which should have been the work of the Geographic Panel instead, and summarily gave improper advice to ICANN to stop our evaluation. Despite the fact that this consensus was unnecessary and unwarranted this advice was adopted by the ICANN Board of Directors New gTLD Program Committee and they resolved that DCA's application would not proceed.

DCA then took the case to arbitration as mandated by the ICANN accountability bylaws. The IRP was administrated by the International Center for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) New York, US which ruled that we prevailed. In a land mark ruling on July 9 2015, the IRP Panel declared 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 and 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. You can get the press release from this link: http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs123/1102516344150/archive/1121623105269.html

DCA is the first organization to receive original endorsements from the Regional African organizations, both the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union (AUC), among other governments and US based Africa partners and International language Community. ICANN has stated that the UNECA and AUC is sufficient to fulfil the requirements of the new gTLD process. Top Endorsers of DotConnectAfrica Initiative can be accessed here: http://dotconnectafrica.org/endorsements/

In DCA's 2010 Press Release, receiving the AUC and UNECA Endorsements, Bekele sending a message to the African leadership "at this historic summit on ICT, the first for the AU" said Ms. Sophia Bekele who is leading the initiative; a former elected advisor to the policy organ for the Domain name issuing organization Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN), also a former elected adviser to United Nation Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to build the first African Information Society Initiative (AISI), "African leaders came together again for a common cause; to include Africa in the digital map, and we as African diaspora and our urgent call to our ideas were heard, our efforts were recognized and our proposals accepted. This is what public service is about, simply and absolutely advancing the interest of the African public. We are very proud and also honored".

Our press release at the time: African Union endorses the domain name “.Africa” to DotConnectAfrica Organization

Certain vested interest groups represented by AU DotAfrica Taskfoce within the AUC decided they wanted the .Africa name be reserved by ICANN to the AUC as a special legislative protection that would enable the African Union to delegate the .Africa string to a structure that the AU itself would identify and select, to later find that it was outside the auspices of the ICANN new gTLD Program.

ZACR is incorrect. DCA has direct endorsements from the Regional bodies that represent Africa. Additionally any governmental objection made by African Governments was rendered invalid by the IRP outcome. ZACR on the other hand does not have any African country support. Any letter(s) that ZACR had in its possession and submitted at the time of application to ICANN was one garnered by the AUC from individual governments to request from ICANN to “reserve” the .Africa name for the AUC, so as AUC would benefit from special legislation protection from ICANN. as such, it was evident that the letters had not been written to unequivocally endorse ZACR as an applicant for the .Africa string. Therefore, ZACR has misrepresented their application. DCA put a straight forward application that is in complaint with the guidebook.

DotConnectAfrica (DCA) Trust cannot see African governments wanting to support an application that was and continue to be in violation of international policy, as administered by the AUC‘s “Infrastructure Division” who provided leadership on this .Africa administration process behalf of the AUC. From the “Reserve Name” request to the “AUC RFP”, and then the “Application submission at ICANN” including the “GAC Objection” they exercised recklessness, never followed the guidebook as set out by ICANN.

The African Heads of State and Governments were and are still not properly briefed on the .Africa matter. DCA has of course briefed the Division on every wrong step it is taking by sending formal letters, however, our voices were ignored. DCA believes there is a huge lack of understanding and competency on the AUC side to operate this matter independently and the consultation they did with ICANN was very ICANN self serving and self preserving, reason they failed in all stages of their attempt. As DCA sees it, the actions of both organizations were not transparent and accountable. They are highly unethical and prejudicial to the African publics. That is why DCA believes if the African Governments are briefed well, they cannot support the work of the AUC Infrastructure division. In fact, they should be asking questions and taking their own actions so that such should never be repeated in Africa again.

ICANN has said there could only be one registry, however certainly DotConnectAfrica (DCA) Trust will work with everyone in Africa and beyond as it have stated many times to realize the vision we brought to Africa.

DotConnectAfrica (DCA) Trust made a commitment in 2010 when African Union endorsed the domain name “.Africa” to DotConnectAfrica Organization.

"This is an open group", said Ms. Sophia Bekele known for advocating a common position in her work in Africa, as she spoke at the Paris ICANN public meeting, pushing for a single ".Africa" initiative. "Most of the loose-knit "African Internet agencies" do not have the mandate to implement the ".Africa" domain, in fact it is a direct conflict of interest with their established mandates. So there is no need to complicate the equation". Agreeing with AU's position, Ms. Bekele said, "we will welcome guidance from all African Internet agencies in our organized effort; as well as the same from our international partners. While an African project, the ".Africa" domain is an international contract that requires a globally shared experience. Africa is directly affected by decisions made on global internet policies. The narrowly defined "internet community" when ICANN was established over a decade ago is no longer inclusive. Internet use has exploded globally more than 300% since 2000. In this light, DCA's stakeholders are much broader, therefore, the use of the internet or domain names like any system to be built, should be defined by the end-users and not internet technologist. Let me add that we, the African Diaspora are a big part of the stakeholder ship. We are the 6th region in the African Union".

Here is our press release at the time: African Union endorses the domain name “.Africa” to DotConnectAfrica Organization

DCA’s pioneering and legitimate voice in the Internet Governance terrene representing neutral and independent voice from governments will be muted. DCA’s dream and aspirations of delivering internet services will be shatter and it's 8 years efforts in vain. DCA Trust initiatives supporting African women and youth will be crushed. The African publics in Africa and Diaspora will be disadvantaged of the great opportunity to be served by a suitable organization that was uniquely built to serve their best interest!

ICANN did not follow the binding ruling of the IRP panel which explicitly stated to “permit DCA Trust’s application to proceed through the remainder of the new gTLD application process”, instead reverted our application to the Geographic evaluation panel, for a re-evaluation, a process that has also been found as compromised which then declared that our application “will Not Proceed and that it is “Ineligible for Further Review”.

This forced DCA to seek the external accountability though the jurisdiction of the US Courts because ICANN’s internal accountability mechanisms had failed to yield the justice required. Thus DCA went to court on 20 January 2016,

Webpage for the DCA Trust vs ICANN court case: https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/dca-v-icann-2016-01-26-en

Webpage for the DCA Trust vs ICANN Independent Review Process (IRP): https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/dca-v-icann-2013-12-11-en

Media and Public comment pages: