The African Union has called for registry operators to express their interest in managing the proposed .africa top-level domain.
It has also confirmed that it is not currently backing DotConnectAfrica’s longstanding bid to apply to ICANN to operate .africa.
DCA has for some time been touting its support from a number of African governments, including the AU, which is required for a geographic TLD bid to be approved by ICANN.
But the AU said in a statement last week:
The AU Commission was at some point approached by an organization now known as DCA seeking endorsement and support for in its bid to use of the domain name.
The AU Commission would like to hereby categorically state that it is not supporting any one individual or organization in this bid.
The statement glosses over the August 2009 letter from AU Commission chairman Jean Ping, which offers to aid DCA with its efforts to gain government support for .africa.
With its support for DCA no longer applicable, the AU yesterday issued its official call for Expressions of Interest from experienced registry operators:
DotAfrica will serve a community which spans over a large portion of region, therefore providing registrants with accrued possibilities for establishing their Internet presence. It is expected that the Africa small and medium size enterprises will greatly benefit from DotAfrica, as they thrive beyond their local markets to invade the regional and continental marketplace.
The EOI does not set out any guidance on what the AU expects to see in a proposal – it doesn’t even specify whether it’s looking for a sponsor or a back-end operator – it merely asks for audited financial statements and a potted corporate bio.
The deadline for the EOI is June 3.
The .africa bid has become fiercely political recently, with DCA throwing around accusations of corruption and back-room dealing.
Its outrage has been centered largely on an AU task force on .africa that was created last November, and its chairman, Nii Quaynor.
He is the registrant of dotafrica.org, which was previously used in a .africa bid that competed with DCA’s.
Other task force members are involved with AfTLD, the African ccTLD association that has also announced it is preparing a .africa bid.
In a blog post this week, DCA calls for the task force to be abandoned.