A Sad Day for the African Internet Community
Its emerging that even though the .Africa “Signing Ceremony held at ICANN 49 on 26 March 2014 was widely publicized and even rarely reported on ICANN’s website, there has been silence on the reception making it hard to understand the uptake of the domains. This is despite a large presence of African Union Commission, dotAfrica, and ZADNA (domain name authority of South Africa) were in attendance, as well as several ZACR and ICANN staff members.
The silence could be signaling a disquiet and suspicions as to how the domain that has been muddied and given negative publicity by the way it has been handled. The Africa Union has been perceived as the cause of major failure in domain’s good will and future prospects.
Africa Union since the inception has been faced with complaints of unfairness and bias on handling the applicants of the domain. DotConnectAfrica was thought to be the main “dotafrica Ambassador” but this was cut short, when Africa union Commission yanked disavowed its 2009 endorsement and gave it to another competitor Uniforum which recently changed its name to ZA Central Registry (ZACR).
DotConnectAfrica has often ruffled feathers by demanding justice to its cause requesting the African union to at least act as an overseer of the project instead of participating directly as a co-applicant with ZA Central Registry (ZACR). ICANN has been faulted for failing to research the facts behind the monopolistic RFP that Africa Union was blamed for using it to procure a preferred applicant unfairly.
Another disheartening issue that explains the lack of enthusiasm despite the longing that African ICT users has placed a premium on the .africa domain is the slow manner that African governments have taken to register their specific names for the Reserve names List that was announced by ZACR as a precursor to the signing.
The decline of interest is worrying to the internet community and could signal a failure of government and private sector support on the domain, the best way to manage the anxiety is for ICANN who oversees the DNS to transparently investigate the complains and confer with the Africa union to retain its overseer role and let the applicants run on a fair competitive bid.
Adding assault to injury, the signing of the dotafrica contract happened while ICANN is engaged in an IRP process with DotConnectAfrica.
The .africa domain was expected to be among the most sought after domain given it’s the premier African domain that would be offered by African organizations. However all is not lost as there is still time for ICANN to reverse the controversy and bring both applications in contention and let the best applicant bid.
Indeed the silence expresses a sad day in the African internet Community.