IRP Documents Reveal African Government Endorsements were for Reserving .africa String for AU and not for AU to apply or designate an applicant for .Africa String

IRPNew revelations from the  DCA vs. ICANN  IRP documents that were released recently provide new details which could have serious consequences for ZACR’s application for the hotly contested .africa gTLD.

The  documents include Sophia Bekele’s (DotConnectAfrica’s – DCA’s – executive director) expert testimony and the Second Memorial on the Merits by DCA’s legal representatives, an international law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, which represents DCA in the DCA vs. ICANN IRP, on how the .Africa new gTLD application was processed.

The lack of  endorsements to ZACR seem also apparent, and also details that ICANN played a big role in supporting ZACR’s application against the rules of engagement where ICANN was supposed to be a referee.   The redacted document states

“ICANN not only advised the AUC on how to control the delegation of .ARICA, but it also…. REDACTED…in order to ensure that ZACR’s application would pass review.”

Bekele states in her testimony that

“These purported endorsements actually were letters written in support of the AUC’s request to reserve .AFRICA (something that is not contemplated by the New gTLD Program) and not in any way related to the endorsements required under the AGB for an applicant for a geographic gTLD.

At the time, I was not aware of any African government that had actually endorsed the ZACR application. Not only were the supporters of the “AU position” confused, but the AU itself and supporting entities involved in the project do not seem to have understood that the only entity actually applying for the right to operate .AFRICA was ZACR and not the AUC.”

and

“Additionally, it is apparent that UniForum/ZACR relied on purported endorsements — not of its application for .AFRICA—but of the position of the AU on .AFRICA.  This does not meet the requirements of the AGB,….REDACTED…..

Moreover, the endorsements demonstrate that the governments of the African countries expressed support for the AU’s position on reserving the strings for the AU—not for the AU to apply for or designate an applicant for the strings.”

The documents emphasized what DCA has argued since the ICANN application reveal in 2012,  that the African Governments supported the “African Community of Nations”, which is represented by the African Governments and not the “African Internet Community”, which was falsely used to make the AUC support a “standard TLD” application, that was submitted by ZACR.  

Therefore the distinction is being made between these two divergent views by the DCA’s submission, where African Heads of State who wanted a “community TLD” application vis a vis a “standard TLD” application that was submitted by ZACR to serve the vested interest of a “Special Interest Group” the study says purports to represent the “Africa Internet community”.

It appears now that the reason ZACR went along with the “Reserve Name” idea by the AUC was so that the AUC could then delegate to them directly, bypassing the ICANN New gTLD program, as presented in the various documents by the study, and the public profile portion of the ZARC application evidencing that ZACR passing off the rights to .africa to the AUC in a  separate contact.

Finally, this is not what the African governments wanted.   What the African governments authorized the AUC to do and what the “African Internet Community” applied for using ZACR as a vehicle,  for a “standard TLD” application gives further credence to the anomaly of the endorsement.

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