African governments raise voice at ICANN

Two days ago, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) revealed which governments had expressed intentions to oppose some of the applied new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) and African governments had a good showing, Africa was ranked third, behind Asia Pacific and Europe.

The African Union Commission led 16 African governments in registering their intention to object to some of the applied new gTLDs with the leading objections directed against the .africa application by Dot Connect Africa Trust, which had submitted a rival bid to AUC for .africa. The .africa geographic name was applied by DCA and UniForum SA, trading as ZA Central Registry, which was appointed by the African Union Commission after a request for proposals and tendering process.

ICANN introduced the “early warning” process as a way to allow governments to register their objections to some of the top level domains applied for. Kenya, South Africa, Benin, Gabon, Senegal, Cameroon, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Morocco, Mali, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Comoros sent their letters against DCA.

“DCA’s application constitutes an unwarranted intrusion and interference with the mandate given to the AUC by African Head of States and African Ministers responsible for Communication and Information Technologies. In this regard the AUC has been mandated to establish dotAfrica (.Africa) as a continental Top-Level Domain for use by organisations, businesses and individuals with guidance from African Internet Agencies and in doing so to set up the structures and modalities for the implementation of the dotAfrica (.Africa) project. DCA’s persistent interference in this process is likely to have substantive political, economic and social repercussions in Africa,” said the AUC in the early warning letter submitted to ICANN.

To some people, maybe the sending of the letters mean nothing but for a region that has had issues finding relevance in ICANN, it was great that African governments were there. At least we can say that the level of awareness on internet business is growing. The interesting part was that .africa was not the only new gTLD that was objected to, there were others too. You can read more about it here 

African governments in the Francophone region joined France in objecting to .Sarl, which is used to refer to certain incorporated companies in French, while South Africa objected to .zulu, and Nigeria opposed .delta, applied for by Delta Airlines. The Nigeria case will be interesting because Delta Airlines may have brand and identity claims while Nigeria will claim that Delta is a geographic region.

The deadline for sending letters was November 20 and 240 were received, relating to 200 new gTLD applications, Australian government led the objections with 129, Germany had 20 and France 19 while the Asia Pacific led with 154, Europe had 51 and Africa 30.

At this stage, applicants have a choice to withdraw their applications and receive 80% of the $185,000 fee or take the matter further and fight it out.