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DotConnectAfrica Confident of Win Despite New gTLD Program Committee resolutions on .africa

Two new gTLD applicants face a similar type of response from both the GAC that gave a controversial GAC Objection Advice which claimed to have reached consensus on .africa application and .gcc. Both applicants responded ICANN concerning their applications.
DotConnectAfrica particularly addressed several important issues that ought to have been considered before the most recent report by the New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC).  In their initial response, DCA said:

We totally disagree with it, and would like to repudiate and reject it in the strongest possible terms. From the outset, we would like to urge the esteemed Board of Directors of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers not to accept this iniquitous, tendentious and inequitable GAC Objection Advice, and to completely distance themselves from it.”

and they highlighted issues related with The Need for Accountability where they sent a letter to Congress to ask for an independent ombudsman different from that assigned by ICANN saying:

“We have already escalated our matter to the United States Congress,, the highest institution of the US Federal Government, and we shall continue to count on the outcome of a prospective Congressional Accountability Hearing to be adjudicated by a Special Independent Counsel acting as new gTLD Program Ombudsman, which we hope will vindicate us and indict UniForum and its principals for fraudulent misrepresentation and deceit.”

Anti-competitive:  DotConnectAfrica has lumped the GAC advice as anti-competitive since its tailored to kill its application even before the initial evaluation is done, the GAC Objection Advice portends to tie our hands behind our back whilst asking us to participate in a boxing match. Such a pugilistic contest would be very unfair and unbalanced, since it would be rather obvious to all the spectators that the hamstrung boxer has been pre-designed to lose the match. It is even more significant and absurd to observe that the boxer whose hands have been tied, have actually been tied by his opponent in the boxing match!”.    The response continues to explain that,

As a matter of fact, we contend that if UniForum has not been endorsed by ‘name’ by any African country government (and the evidence at our disposal profoundly suggests that this is actually the case), we do not accept that their application should be allowed to continue by the ICANN Board, whilst ours should be stopped on the basis of a GAC Policy Advice Objection. It is not our fault that the ICANN GAC has not thoroughly considered the issues at stake before issuing their GAC Objection Advice. Even GAC should be accountable for its actions.”


The ICANN Board should also not implement a GAC Policy Advice that it had somehow initiated:  The theory behind this is that ICANN that initiated the wheel of this destiny as “to the extent that the origins of AU’s coordinated GAC Objection Advice against DCA’s .Africa application is directly traceable to the ICANN Board.  In a nutshell, the GAC Objection Advice that we are now responding to seems to have emanated from the ICANN Board.”.   DCA quote ICANN’s Chair letter to the Dakar Communique which notes that inter alia:

“While ICANN is not able to offer the specific relief requested in the Communiqué, the robust protections built into the New gTLD Program afford the African Union (and its individual member states), through the Government Advisory Committee, the opportunity to raise concerns that an applicant is seen as potentially sensitive or problematic, or provide direct advice to the Board. In addition, the African Union (and its individual member states) can avail itself of any of the appropriate objection processes mentioned above in the event an application is received for any string – even those beyond representations of .Africa – that may raise concern

DotConnectAfrica has been hot in the heels trying hard to fight these issues and though they have amicably brought all these matters in detail to the attention of ICANN, it seems that none is willing to courageously stand out and address the elephant in the room, as much as the issues are clear and concise,   The Resolution by the New gTLD Program Committee resolutions  post GAC Advice was as below: 

“AGB provides that if “GAC advises ICANN that it is the consensus of the GAC that a particular application should not proceed. This will create a strong presumption for the ICANN Board that the application should not be approved.” (AGB § 3.1) The NGPC directs staff that pursuant to the GAC advice and Section 3.1 of the Applicant Guidebook, Application number 1-­‐1165-­‐42560 for .africa will not be approved. In accordance with the AGB the applicant may withdraw (pursuant to AGB § 1.5.1) or seek relief according to ICANN’s accountability mechanisms (see ICANN Bylaws, Articles IV and V) subject to the appropriate standing and procedural requirements.”

Though DotConnectAfrica still has the two options, its not known if ICANN is willing to act and set the record straight instead of milling around the obvious scenario that Uniforum has been given an upper hand in this round despite its gaping weaknesses.  DotConnectAfrica has stated its confidence in continuing its application to the very end stating: 

“we wish to reiterate our enduring position that the AU’s involvement has created unnecessary complications in the decision path of .Africa, and the only way to resolve this problem amicably is for the issue of government support to be made irrelevant in the process so that both contending applications for .Africa would be allowed to move forward by the ICANN Board based on the outcome of the Initial Evaluation, and for any contentions regarding the .Africa name string to be resolved based on the enshrinements of the new gTLD Program Guidebook.”

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June 13th, 2013



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