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Africa hands coffin nails to DotConnectAfrica evaluators

Kevin Murphy, October 1, 2015, 11:07:29 (UTC), Domain Policy

The African Union and a United Nations commission have formally told ICANN that they don’t support DotConnectAfrica’s bid for .africa.

When it comes to showing governmental support, a necessity under ICANN’s rules for a geographic gTLD applications, the UN Economic Commission for Africa was DCA’s only prayer.

Company CEO Sophia Bekele had managed to get somebody at UNECA to write a letter supporting .africa back in 2008, and DCA has continued to pretend that the letter was relevant even after the entire continent came out in support of rival applicant ZA Central Registry.

During its Independent Review Process appeal, DCA begged the IRP panel to declare that the 2008 letter showed it had the support of the 60% of African governments that it requires to be approved by ICANN.

The panel naturally declined to take this view.

Now UNECA has said in a letter to the African Union Commission (pdf) dated July 20, which has since been forwarded to ICANN:

ECA as United Nations entity is neither a government nor a public authority and therefore is not qualified to issue a letter of support for a prospective applicant in support of their application. In addition, ECA does not have a mandate represent the views or convey the support or otherwise of African governments in matters relating to application for delegation of the gTLD.

It is ECA’s position that the August 2008 letter to Ms Bekele cannot be properly considered as a “letter of support or endorsement” with the context of ICANN’s requirements and cannot be used as such.

The AUC itself has also now confirmed for the umpteenth time, in a September 29 letter (pdf), that it doesn’t support the DCA bid either. It said:

Any reliance by DCA in its application… proclaiming support or endorsement by the AUC, must be dismissed. The AUC does not support the DCA application and, if any such support was initially provided, it has subsequently been withdrawn with the full knowledge of DCA even prior to the commencement of ICANN’s new gTLD application process.

The AUC went on to say that if DCA is claiming support from any individual African government, such claims should be treated “with the utmost caution and sensitivity”.

That’s because a few years ago African Union member states all signed up to a declaration handing authority over .africa to the AUC.

The AUC ran an open process to find a registry operator. DCA consciously decided to not participate, proclaiming the process corrupt, and ZACR won.

The new letters are relevant because DCA is currently being evaluated for the second time by ICANN’s independent Geographic Names Panel, which has to decide whether DCA has the support of 60% of African governments.

ZACR passed its GNP review largely due to a letter of support from the AUC.

If DCA does not have the same level of support, its application will fail for the second time.

The 2008 UNECA letter was the only thing DCA had left showing any kind of support from any governmental authority.

Now that’s gone, does this mean the DCA application is dead?

No. DCA has a track record of operating irrationally and throwing good money after bad. There’s every chance that when it fails the Geographic Names Review it will simply file another Request for Reconsideration and then another IRP, delaying the delegation of .africa for another year or so.

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Comments (29)

  1. Michele says:

    You’ll be writing about .africa for the next 10 years at this rate!

  2. Then, ZACR should go ahead in administering .africa (period)

    • Michele says:

      Until the appeals etc., are resolved .africa is stuck

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      The tough question is how much accountability is enough; some applicants have received unfair treatment, while others that were treated fairly are stalling other members of the contention set using every mechanism possible in an unfair way. A possible solution would be an outcome that came with penalties, so this factor can also be assessed as part of the panel work.

  3. Katie Schroder says:

    I’m sure that by tomorrow DCA will have put out a statement that support cannot be revoked and this is further proof of a vast conspiracy against them.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Me and the other conspirators are not due to meet until this evening. I’ll let you know what we decide.

    • Evans Taylor says:

      You are right, according to the rulebook it can’t be withdrawn.

      • Kevin Murphy says:

        Wrong!

        Read section 2.2.1.4.3

        “It is also possible that a government may withdraw its
        support for an application at a later time, including after
        the new gTLD has been delegated, if the registry operator
        has deviated from the conditions of original support or nonobjection.”

    • Martin says:

      As I recall, the ICANN application period closed in 2012 and this letters seem to be dated 2015. Why would this be relevant?

      • Kevin Murphy says:

        Because you need to show support for your application, and this shows unequivocally you don’t have any.

        • Evans Taylor says:

          The ‘Secretary’ aka legal Advisor is from Ghana. I can imagine this undo DCA letter like the AUC one, smells of Nii Quaynor shenanigans, lest ‘legal advisor’ be his cousin. Real Funny!!

      • Katie Schroder says:

        Going on the timing I’m guessing the DCA application is currently being evaluated by the Geographic Names Panel who are probably checking the DCA claims of support. These letters would have been created by UNECA and the AUC in response to questions from the GNP.

        This time everyone will go out of their way to make sure all the paperwork is done by the book in expectation of yet another DCA IRP.

        • Rubens Kuhl says:

          Not just support; Geo Names Panel also evaluates oppositions. A Geo applicant needs both support and lack of opposition from relevant public authorities. Kevin’s title of “handing coffin nails” is extremely accurate, because even if DCA could show support from one country, the AUC opposition is fatal.

          • Evans Taylor says:

            The evaluation should be based on its merit and not objection. The job of GNP is not to accept objection

            • Rubens Kuhl says:

              Page 2-18 of the guidebook: “In the case of an application for a string appearing
              on either of the lists above, documentation of
              support will be required from at least 60% of the
              respective national governments in the region, and
              there may be no more than one written statement
              of objection to the application from relevant
              governments in the region and/or public authorities
              associated with the continent or the region.”

              So yes, looking at objections is the job of geo names panel as well.

          • Martin O says:

            This letter should be dismissed as irregular and will be interpreted as direct and willful interference to prejudice the evaluation, and as sabotage of endorsement. If the GNP is smart, it will dismiss it.

        • ilampeka says:

          Why would GNP send questions to UNECA and AUC when they did not do that for ZACR. Does by the book only apply to DCA discriminately? Perhaps they should instead be writing an updated letter for DCA to be consistent with their actions with ZACR.!

      • Rubens Kuhl says:

        To increase on Kevin’s point, Geo TLDs need to show *continuous* support, not one-time support. Every Geo TLD, including the already contracted ones, can have their contract challenged by the public authority that granted the support in a court local to that authority. So ICANN may ask as many times as they see please if support is still there or not, before or after contracting.

        • ilampeka says:

          you mean ICANN could write support letters themselves for their favorated applicant before or after contracting in tangent with the public authorities? I get you.

          • Rubens Kuhl says:

            Page 2-20 of the guidebook:
            “It is also possible that a government may withdraw its
            support for an application at a later time, including after
            the new gTLD has been delegated, if the registry operator
            has deviated from the conditions of original support or nonobjection.”

  4. Martin O says:

    By the way Murphy, as per the DNA blog you should have been accurate in your reporting when you misrepresented DCA’s endorsement from UNECA as DCA got to ” someone to write” ….blah blah… DCA in fact obtained endorsement from the ex UNECA top man executive secretary, which looks like the new Top man refused to undo. !

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      By The Way, UNECA has no standing in supporting geo applicationss, so it’s difficult to understand why it keeps being mentioned, no matter it withdrew any support… it’s also difficult to grasp why DCA keeps posting these non-sense comments at forums where people know better. Try addressing a crowd that will actually fall for these misrepresentations of the process instead…

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