DotAfrica project alleges sabotage from AU

By KariaKore

Even before the initiative can see its efforts come to fruition and its benefits to African information and communications technology (ICT) community experienced, the yet-to-be opersationalised “.africa” initiative is facing hurdles meant to delay its realisation.
Already, DotConnectAfrica (DCA), one of the organizations that expressed interest and applied to implement the “.africa” top level internet domain (TLD) has come out to allege sabotage from interested groups within both the Africa Union (AU) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

DCA, which received an endorsement from the African Union Commission (AUC) chairman’s office in August 2009, with the letter of endorsement being submitted by by the concerned Unit of Africa Union, Commission of Infrastructure, claims that there is currently a “reversal” and withdrawal of the endorsement by the AU.
In a complaint note sent to the AU and the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa (UNECA) in Addis Africa, titled “A Note of Official Complaint Regarding Certain Influence-Peddling Activities Being Perpetrated Against DotConnectAfrica (DCA) Organization, and Wrongful Withdrawal of Endorsement Letter Granted to DCA on account of Willful Negative Manipulation Against Our Efforts by Our Detractors,” and dated January 26 2011, DCA claims that its efforts to implement the “.africa” TLD are being sabotaged by forces within the AU and UNECA.
“From what we and observers see, this group have done nothing on the ground on .africa that they could show as proof of their positive commitment; neither do they have any solid endorsements from any serious stakeholder, any institutional support or even community acceptance aside from their own clique,” reads the letter authored by Ms Sophia Bekele, DCA’s executive director.
“Therefore, their plan is to continue to sabotage our AU endorsement along with their ‘friends’ and ‘secret cabal’ within the AU and UNECA. This is likened to a scenario that not only do they want to steal the car that we have been driving, but also surreptitiously demanding a legal “right” to the key to the car without even knowing or demonstrating that they ever purchased a car or proving that they can properly drive a car; which only a legally-mandated authority can do, which in this case is ICANN,” adds the letter.
In the letter, DCA further the alleged actions and urges AU and UNECA leadership to caution the alleged saboteurs.
The DCA complaint to AU and UNECA follows the submission of a letter to CBS International, a US-based technology company that Ms. Bekele runs out of California, to the effect that “AU no longer endorses individual initiatives.”

The letter, signed by AUC deputy commissioner and which was also sent to ICANN- the global body which overseas operations of the internet – added that “Africa Union will work with relevant stakeholders to go through a transparent process.”
According to DCA, the most shoking aspect about the withdawal of the endorsement after 8 months it was issued is that “the Africa Union Commission has since endorsed other individual initiatives after purportedly withdrawing DCA’s.”

Among the intended benefits of the “.africa” internet domain is to enhance the branding of Africa-based organizations and institutions and also to strengthen existing country coder top level domains (ccTLDs) as well as other regional gTLDs.
“The initiative would strengthen second level domain names through cross marketing of existing domains such as “.za,” “.ke,” “.et” and “.ng” as well as other existing regional gTLDs. It would elevate ccTLDs to become continental and global internet identities and also support the integration of regional and continental TLDs,” said Ms Bekele.

Ms Sophia Bekele and Kenya's information and communication PS Dr Bitange Ndemo.