DCA Commentary: Response to the African Union Commission Communiqué

The attention of DCA has been drawn to the recently issued Communiqué by the African Union Commission (Re: The African Union Commission Clarification of Dot Africa) dated 12th May 2011 and available from the Commission’s website.

As a party that was specifically named in the said Communiqué, since its provenance is unknown, DCA feels compelled to exercise its right to reply, and also issue a clarification of its own.  Moreover, the Communiqué is unsigned and no one really knows what process led to its release on the AU Web Site :Read AU communiqué here

1. DCA feels VINDICATED that its concerted campaigns over the past couple of months has led the AU Commission to now issue this clarification. Indeed, it is common knowledge that in recent months, the DCA has repeatedly raised pertinent, yet very profound questions in its campaigns regarding who exercises due authority to give “mandate on DotAfrica registry“, and the issue of “endorsement to AfTLD“, or an “AU-Led DotAfrica” agenda which has been perpetrated by the  vested interest group advising the AU; which have caused the AU to now be an umpire of a process that is actually rightfully owned by ICANN.

2.  A close reading of the AU Commission Communiqué acknowledges that the DCA indeed approached the Commission for an endorsement without however divulging any further information regarding the outcome of such a direct approach that was made by DCA.

3. The AU Commission Communiqué therefore acknowledges that DCA made an honest request for endorsement and by so doing, transparently expressed interest regarding the DotAfrica domain namespace before any other organization registered interest on DotAfrica.

4.  DCA hereby recollects that it was indeed issued an official endorsement letter by the AU in August 2009. … This endorsement is common knowledge within the ICANN, African Internet and Business Community.   It would be good for the AU Commission to now truthfully admit that it had indeed previously issued an endorsement to DCA.

5.  From the established sequence of events the AU Communiqué  refers to, i.e the various Council of Ministers and Assembly of Heads of States and Government endorsements given to DotAfrica actually was derived from the fact that DCA had already proposed DotAfrica directly to the AU Commission for endorsement and the AU dully endorced the dotafrica project to DCA. … DCA derives justification for its claim from the above Communiqué which notes inter alia that  “The Commission, while appreciating all individual initiatives presented the matter to Member States for guidance.”

6.  Nearly eight months later, a second letter was purportedly issued from another source and signed by a different party within the AU Commission to overturn or withdraw DCA’s original endorsement.  It is to be noted that the second letter refers to the first letter in its content, noting “BC/Y/727/08.09 on the 27th of August”, giving credence to DCA’s claim that DCA indeed got a letter of endorsement from AU. Within the past couple of months, the bone of contention has been the validity or authenticity of the second letter, and whether due process and proper procedures were followed in the process of DCA’s endorsement letter being overturned.

7.  DCA has always believed that its detractors sabotaged its efforts and has openly lodged official complaints at different times to the AU and UNECA in this regard.

8.  The DCA has continued to respond to these issues by addressing its legitimate grievances to the respective heads of these two important organizations and to ICANN in a civilized and agreeable manner hoping that justice, truth and fairness would prevail.

9.  Whilst DCA acknowledges that the AU Commission Communiqué categorically clarifies that the AU Commission is not supporting any one individual or organization, DCA still has some bones to pick to the extent that the Communiqué did not indicate that there is an existing AU Task Force on Dot Africa.

10.  DCA has always expressed its reservations regarding the AU Task Force, in terms of the conflicting interests of its membership and composition, and believes that the different wrong perceptions and confusion that has pervaded the DotAfrica debate has to do with the views of AU Task Force members who have taken an adversarial stance to DCA, and have vowed to assist another organization to win an endorsement from the AU Commission.

11.  DCA acknowledges that the bidding process for a DotAfrica domain name space is owned by ICANN as the only recognized Global Internet Governance Authority, and that the AU Commission can only endorse simply as a relevant stakeholder. Therefore, the AU cannot introduce a supernumerary process that would pass or fail any prospective bidder, since only success or failure at the ICANN level could be considered definitive and binding.

12.  DCA now believes that the AUC Call for Expression of Interest (EOI) to be “the sole mechanism for selecting and endorsing prospective companies, groups or individuals, prior to the launch of the ICANN” process would indeed lack credibility because of the largely discredited AU Task Force members who have aligned themselves against DCA and openly established their links to prospective bidders such as AfTLD.

13. DCA believes that the AU EOI is an extraordinary process introduced AFTER THE FACT but which has not revealed any transparent guidelines for evaluating prospective bidders.

14. The DCA hereby insists that its previous endorsement from the AU Commission is still valid, and that the AU Commission should unequivocally come out in the interest of justice and fairness align itself to the side of truth and officially reinstate the previous endorsement that was fairly won, and freely, yet honestly bestowed on DCA.

15. The DCA would like to use this opportunity to request the AU Commission Leadership to immediately disband the discredited AU Task Force and ban its members from continuing to act in any advisory capacity to the AU and also bar them from participating in any exercise relating to the DotAfrica gTLD Initiative.

Finally, DCA would remain seized of this matter and hereby reiterates its willingness to continue engaging the AU Commission Leadership until justice is done and its previous endorsement again acknowledged.

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