Progress towards a ".africa" at ICANN 38, in Brussels the Capital of Europe

Brussels ICANN no. 38 | 20-25 June 2010 was a success for DotConnectAfrica as sponsor & presenting Africa's common position.
By: DotConnectAfrica
Aug. 3, 2010 - PRLog -- Brussles ICANN 38:   Brussels, the capital of the European Union (EU), a 27 member organization along with  dotEU were host to the 38th meeting of ICANN, the California based nonprofit, which oversees the fate of the new Generic top-level-domains (gTLDs) such as the existing .com,.org.  One of ICANN’s key mandates since it was founded in 1998 has been to create competition in the domain name market.  Opening the top-level space beyond the existing twenty-four gTLDs is expected to encourage a new wave of innovation.

Amongst the new gTLDs present at the conference was DotConnectAfrica promoting “.africa”, domain whose main accomplishment included:

1. Sponsorship - DCA was one of ICANN event sponsors, the first African TLD to sponsor an ICANN International conference,  which allowed it to also promote the work it has done in Africa for the "africa" TLD to the international community.   "it is refreshing to see an African organization sponsoring an event held at the seat of European Government", said the ccTLD operator for Cameroon,  Michel Tchonang Linze also,.General Coordinator of CAPDA, and the Central Africa Regional Network Coordinator for the Pan African ICT and Development (ACSIS),

2..Presenting an African common position for ICANN support for new gTLDs - DCA also sponsored a delegation from Africa to shape the policy debate, in support of the community based gTLD initiatives. Ms. Sophia Bekele, who was also asked to take part in the drafting and organizing committee to present the African position for gTLDs, contributed to making a strong statement towards support of new gTLDs not only by ICANN but also DCA's interest in the same. The African position was part of a multi-stakeholder Working Group that was mandated by the ICANN's Board Resolutions [No:20] at Nairobi, March 2010 meeting requesting stakeholders to form a Working Group to develop mechanisms to providing support to applicants requiring assistance in applying for and operating new gTLDs.

Elected African representative, Executive Committee, ICANN Non Commercial Constituency (NCUC) Mr. Alex Gukuru, a Kenyan, commented positively on DCA’s effort in its, dotafrica application to support community gTLDs.  Other inputs towards ICANN’s support included Mr. Sammy Buruchara CEO of Nairobinet. He was on-site at the meeting saying, “entrepreneurs in the private sector also impact the grassroots efforts of Africa . They need to be supported and not just non-profit or NGO status organizations”, as in the original draft.  Another proposal presented to the At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) by Tijani Ben Jemaa of Africa's Regional At Large Organization, AFRALO received a comment from The North American At Large Regional Organization, NARALO member and Vice Chair of the North American SF Bay Internet Society Chapter, Ms. Annalisa Roger in support of the initiative for new gTLD African applicants warned that its should apply to African applicants and  registries in Africa only, as the possibilities are wide for foreign registries to receive support for their African registry businesses - which is not the point of this particular initiative.  The initiative was accepted by the ALAC. From the statement that appears on ICANN’s website the proposals were received positively and approved by ICANN Board.    

Other notable remarks at the meeting included ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom's opening statement which clarified government's position over domain names.  At what is said to be the largest gathering of stakeholders of internet ever, the CEO clarified the role of government in managing domain names. He said: “Support for the multi-stakeholder model in the next few months will be more important than ever.  There are those who do not believe in this model, or who seek to divert it for their own benefit at the expense of other stakeholders. Others want to see all private sector and civil society stakeholders eliminated and to allow only governments to make the decisions, limiting the involvement of many parties that facilitate technological innovation." referencing the ITU and UN and their roles as a collection of governments.

The CEO’s remarks on government’s role and the mult-stakholder consultative approach that ICANN endorses, reinforces DCA's governance model for the ".africa" domain built towards the benefit of Africa.  “We have known early on what governance model to use to accommodate stakeholders and beneficiaries, as we have been involved in the development of policies of gTLDs such as" dotafrica" and "dotasia" with ICANN long ago.  We are not confused” said Sophia Bekele when asked to comment. She continued,  “I would think the same vision was shared by our endorsers such African Union and ECA.  They certainly represent a collection of governments, and based on our recent meeting with AUC, they have confirmed their role is simply to facilitate”.

"We have openly campaigned across Africa to create the awareness and benefits of the dotafrica TLD with enormous amount of success and positive feedback:, said Dr. Subbiah Subramanian,.Board advisor to DCA who was also at the Brussels meeting.  “DCA has also showed its commitment to Africa by having presence in Nairobi and securing resources and infrastructure”, he said.

Other big announcements at ICANN was approving the ".XXX" string which has been contested for years and also Chinese IDNs.   ICANN has approved such strings as Arabic, Russian in its last round.  The Principals of DCA who have long championed IDNs since 2005 feel vindicated by the continuous decisions of ICANN on IDNs.  “We expect dotafrica will provide African languages with the same opportunities”, Said Ms. Bekele.  IDNs allow for new and existing domain names to be available not only in Latin alphabet but in other forms (Chinese characters, Cyrillic, Amharic etc..)

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DotConnectAfrica is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization incorporated in Mauritius Africa with reference ID CT87-10-DCA-90, and will sponsor, establish and operate a TLD registry with global recognition and regional significance dedicated to the needs of the Pan-African and African community
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