The Africa Union’s (AU) recent announcement that it had selected South Africa-based domain registry operator Uniform SA as its preferred domain operator to administer the yet-to-be delegated (dot)Africa domain is already facing opposition from organizations that have applied to ICANN for the domain.
One of the organizations that have submitted a bid to ICANN for (dot)Africa domain, DotConnectAfrica.org or DCA has come with all its guns blazing, arguing that “any registry selected by AU is illegitimate, as the AU does not have the powers to delegate.”
In a press statement issued on March 5, titled: “African Union & UNIFORUM SA should beware of Wrongdoing over DotAfrica,” DCA states that most of the press reports that have been published since the AU announcement over selection of Uniform SA “are quite misleading since a firm cannot be selected to administer a domain that has not yet been delegated.”
“Even as we understand the very impossibility of the African Union mainstreaming itself strategically within a particular proposal in a policy-oversight role whilst also playing the tactical role of a ‘self-endorsing’ entity in order to singularly control the fate of DotAfrica. It is therefore important to set the records straight in the global public interest,” reads the DCA statement.
DCA states that reports to the effect that UniForum SA has received an ‘endorsement from the AU’ for the administration of the (dot)Africa gTLD are also in bad faith, noting that its own (dot)Africa bid received the AU endorsement in 2009.
“Despite several dishonest attempts to deny or invalidate and withdraw the endorsement through various acts of sabotage including using a forged letter of unknown provenance, DCA has remained steadfast and undaunted; and has continued with its independent promotional campaign in pursuit of its objective of applying for DotAfrica through the ICANN new gTLD programme,” reads the release.
In the statement, DCA further challenges the AU “to act immediately in the greater interest of global public transparency and accountability” and release the details of its (dot)Africa EOI process and the RFP including:
- which firms and organizations participated in the EOI,
- what they had each proposed;
- how they were evaluated,
- what merit-based system was employed in the evaluation of the respective proposals,
- the relative scores obtained by each evaluated participant,
- the final rankings and how the decision was arrived at to select UniForum South Africa as ‘an African-based registry’;
- the final evaluation committee minutes that were taken during the meeting to decide on the selection,
- the names of those who assented to those minutes;
- the decision of the AU Tenders Board to approve the selection of UniForum S.A.
- and the official signatories to that decision
- and finally make a full disclosure of all these through a public media announcement.
The (dot)Africa domain, set to be a distinctive pan-African identification for regional online operations when it is opened up for registration, is among the new generic top level domains (gTLDs) that is set to be approved by ICANN in 2013. According to the AU, the selection of Uniform SA follows the evaluation of proposals submitted in December 2011, which attracted local and international registries interested in managing (dot)Africa operations.