We would like to begin by saying how grateful we are for the kind sentiments expressed in your Blog that DCA Trust should be commended for raising the profile of .AFRICA. Even so, we think that we have not been given enough credit for all our hard-work; all the same, we are humbled by your honest acknowledgement of DCA’s efforts and wish that other commentators and observers will also highlight DCA’s important contributions regarding DotAfrica.
However, we believe that there are certain opinions and insinuations contained in your Blog which we must now respond to.
First, we wish to hereby affirm that it is the intention of DCA Trust to protect itself from becoming the victim or to suffer any harm from the insidious effects of thecuckoo-business model that UniForum SA (trading either as ZA Central Registry or Registry.Africa) is practicing. Indeed, you will agree with us, that at the time you wrote in your Blog during 2011 to explain what the cuckoo-business model was all about, UniForum had not shown any interest in DotAfrica. Actually, it was ARC, whose proposed directors (Neil Dundas et. al.) also happen to be the directors of UniForum that had certain designs on DotAfrica. Following the failure of their opportunistic business plan which you coined as cukoo-business model, that was conveyed using the unsuccessful ARC vehicle, they reverted to using UniForum to pursue their aims. Therefore, DCA Trust will try its level best to ensure that this type of duplicity is continuously exposed for all to see.
Second, we expect that as an independent, non-partisan Blogger, your views should be balanced, so that your analyses are not portrayed as ‘sponsored’. Even though we do not expect your open support, DCA Trust expects you to be at least, sympathetic to its cause. Your statement that “If anyone is going to get the .africa registry contract, it’s the other applicant: Uniforum, the South African ccTLD registry” is quite unprofessional, unwarranted, and sub judice to the ICANN evaluation process that has just started. We expect you to show impartiality in your reportage and bridle your instincts of prematurely calling the results of an application process that is yet to be decided by the necessary ICANN Evaluation and other proper due processes that must be brought to bear. We therefore urge you to kindly refrain from making such injudicious comments in the future.
Even though you have made much of the issue of 60 per cent support from governments or statement of non-objection from governments for a geographic string, we believe that the matter of DotAfrica will not be decided simply on the basis of endorsement. Of course, for a geographic string, the ICANN guidebook stipulations are quite clear, and we believe that we have fulfilled the necessary requirements. If you state openly in your Blog that our 2009 endorsement that we got from the African Union Commission does not count,then you are obviously playing the same game that was started by our detractors who have been trying all along to deny and invalidate our hard-won endorsement in order to frustrate DCA’s chances of applying for DotAfrica. It is our sacred responsibility to make sure that our early-bird endorsement from the African Union Commission counts. We shall continue to reinforce our claims at every opportunity. Our AU endorsement was valid at the time it was granted, and several months after it was granted, an invidious act of forgery was attempted to invalidate it which we have refused to accept.
Again, we believe that in your Blog, you have been rather dismissive of ICANN’s power to approve the final mandate to delegate the DotAfrica string. It is the same pitfall that UniForum has fallen into. UniForum seems to have trusted more in the AU’s power to award it the DotAfrica string, but even so, UniForum has already betrayed the confidence that was reposed on it. For example, you excerpted a statement from a certain AU Communiqué that “the AU Commission selected UniForum SA (the ZA Central Registry Operator or ZACR), to administer and operate dotAfrica gTLD on behalf of the African community”, but events have now proved that this is putative selection is really of no consequence. The reality is that UniForum did not apply on behalf of the African Community. No Community TLD application was submitted to ICANN for DotAfrica (.AFRICA). We expect that when proper accountability is required, UniForum will be hard-pressed to explain why it failed to submit an application for a Community TLD for .Africa even though it already received in your words, “explicit, exclusive, unambiguous support of the African Union Commission”. We expect that UniForum will be either accused of obtaining the AU’s support under false pretences, or being fraudulent in its intentions.
For us, the crux of the matter, which remains our strongest point of disagreement with the competition, is whether the ICANN or AU holds the key to determining the ultimate fate of DotAfrica gTLD. We believe that it is ICANN, and DCA Trust will continue to put its faith in ICANN. This is why we remain confident, that if the guidebook principles and ICANN’s criteria are scrupulously followed, and no extraordinary, third-party measures are used to influence or manipulate the process, DCA stands a very good chance of victory. Our opponents on the other hand believe that the AU holds the key to any ultimate decision regarding DotAfrica, but we refuse to allow ourselves to be marginalized out of the process. We believe that the process should be left to the ICANN evaluation alone. Thus, DCA is reiterating “that ICANN, and not the African Union, should be the body that gets to decide who should run .africa.” If you like, continue to say that this is rubbish, but the truth of the matter is that ICANN remains the sole governance authority regarding new gTLDs – DotAfrica included. This is what buttresses our position, and it has nothing to do with what you have termed ‘denial’ or ‘disconnection from reality’. In a nutshell, we strongly believe that in the final analysis, ICANN, and not the AU has the pertinent rights over the DotAfrica gTLD and we shall prove this in due course, to the consternation of our opponents, and all our critics will be confounded by the final outcome.
You may recall that the African Union had requested the ICANN Board to include “thename string and its representation in any other language within the Reserved Names List in order to enjoy the level of special legislative protection, to be managed and operated by the structure that is selected and identified by the African Union“,an extraordinary request that was refused by the ICANN Board because it was contrary to the stipulations of the new gTLD Applicant’s Guidebook.
In our estimation, the ICANN decision not to reserve the name for the benefit of the AU did not favour the ‘structure’ that the AU wanted to separately delegate the gTLD to outside the auspices of the ICANN-governed new gTLD programme. We interpreted this as a strong confirmation that DCA Trust can take its chances with the ICANN process. This explains why we remain confident of our chances, against the backdrop that UniForum has already committed many infractions which we intend to the attention of ICANN.
Therefore, if in your earlier blog of June 9, 2012 you have already informed or forewarned your readers to expect Objections over DotAfrica ‘Unbelievably .africa will be contested‘ we do not see the basis for your recent statement “that in the current new gTLD round there are no applications that are both “geographic” and contested by multiple applicants”. The simple truth is that the issue of DotAfrica is different from other geographic TLDs, It is now being contested by DCA Trust and UniForum.
Finally, regarding the string name, we know what we applied for – and it is for the geographic name ‘AFRICA’ a six-character ASCII string, pronounced as ‘DotAfrica’ and it references the name of the geographic region ‘Africa’. We have already issued the necessary clarification to eliminate any ambiguity or confusion regarding the applied-for string. It would be extremely naïve for anyone to accuse DCA of incompetence in this matter. Therefore, we have nothing more to say on this issue. Any relevant request for clarification that is brought to DCA’s attention by the ICANN Evaluation will be confidently attended to on the basis of the general principles enshrined in the Applicant’s Guidebook.
The DotConnectAfrica (DCA) group is a Pan-African organization that was formed with an objective to advance education in the digital economy in the African society and, in connection with that objective, to benefit the general African public access to Internet resources including the digital transformation of Africa.