Delegation of DotAfrica gTLD blocked, DCA gets relief from US Court


The delegation of the contentious .africa gTLD has been suspended. This follows the United States District Court, Central District Of California, – Western Division ruling which has granted an Interim Relief for DotConnectAfrica by issuing a decision compelling ICANN to hold off from delegating the .AFRICA top-level domain (TLD) for ZA Central Registry (ZACR).

The Court further directed that the Defendant – in this case ICANN – be enjoined from issuing the .Africa gTLD until the Court decides Plaintiff’s (DCA’s) Motion for Preliminary Injunction, scheduled for hearing on April 4, 2016.

“Upon review of the parties’ arguments, the Court finds serious questions going to the merits. Plaintiff has demonstrated that once the gTLD is issued, it will be unable to obtain those rights elsewhere. Moreover, the injury it will suffer cannot be compensated through monetary damages. In opposition, Defendant states in conclusory fashion only that the African governments and the ICANN community will suffer prejudice if the delegation of the gTLD is delayed”, states the ruling, adding that “this will allow the Court time to consider arguments from DotConnectAfrica Trust (DCA Trust) and ICANN regarding the .AFRICA TLD.”

The interim relief was granted after DCA Trust submitted its first Amended Notice on 26 February 2016.

The current development is a response to the ICANN Board’s March 03, 2016 emergency resolution authorizing the ICANN CEO to resume the delegation for .Africa: “to prepare to move forward toward delegation of .AFRICA with the party that has signed a Registry Agreement to operate .AFRICA.” The resolution also authorized the ICANN “President and CEO, or his designee(s), to proceed with the delegation of .AFRICA to be operated by ZACR pursuant to the Registry Agreement that ZACR has entered with ICANN.”

On June 10, 2015, an Independent Review Process (IRP), at the International Center for Dispute Resolution (ICDR), ruled that ICANN had violated its Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation following an expert determination of an IRP suit that was filed by DCA Trust in October 2013 to challenge an ICANN Board decision at the American Arbitration Association (AAA), New York, USA. The IRP Panel ruled that ICANN violated is Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. The IRP is the accountability review processes set out in the ICANN Bylaws.

DotConnectAfrica Trust is represented in this legal proceeding by Brown, Neri & Smith LLP, of Los Angeles, California.

DotConnectAfrica Trust is an independent non-profit organization based in Port Louis, Mauritius with its registry operations located in Nairobi, Kenya. Its main charitable objects are: (a) for the advancement of education in information technology to the African society; and (b) in connection with (a) to provide the African society with a continental Internet domain name to have access to Internet services for the people of Africa as a purpose beneficial to the public in general.