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The Extended Evaluation of DCA's Application expires in mid January 2016. We expect that DCA will (again) fail the Geographic Name Evaluation criteria leaving us free to pursue the full implementation of the Registry Agreement concluded with ICANN on 24 March 2014.
The public launch of the .africa TLD by the ZACR was delayed due to the Independent Review Process (IRP) between ICANN and DotConnectAfrica Trust (DCA Trust). DCA Trust was the second applicant for the .africa gTLD.
It is a matter of public record that DCA Trust initially submitted a separate competing application for .africa, but lacked critical government support. In contrast, the ZACR’s application for .africa was accompanied by widespread support from African governments, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Internet community.
In terms of the stringent rules governing the application process for the new gTLDs, an application that qualifies as a “geographic” name must be accompanied by significant government support. This criterion was not only absent from the DCA Trust application, but it also attracted widespread opposition from African governments.
Government opposition to the DCA Trust application manifested itself in a number of ways, including the issuing of Government Advisory Committee (GAC) consensus advice. The GAC, which represents governments from all over the world within the ICANN multi-stakeholder structure, formally advised the ICANN board that it had reached consensus that DCA Trust’s application for .africa should not proceed. As a result, the ICANN Board denied DCA Trust’s application with immediate effect.
The ICANN Board decision, issued on the back of consensus GAC advice, was challenged by DCA Trust through an internal accountability review process called the “Independent Review Process” or “IRP". This process is documented in the ICANN Bylaws.
Following the IRP process, ICANN elected to refer the DCA Application [1-1165-42560] back to the Initial Review process. As indicated above, a critical aspect of the evaluation process is assessing whether the geographic name application has the required minimum government support (60% of African Governments). This process is administered by the Geographic Name Panel.
On 13 October 2015, ICANN published DCA's Initial Evaluation Report and the following comment was inserted under the Geographic Names section: "The Geographic Names Panel has determined that your application falls within the criteria for a geographic name contained in the Applicant Guidebook Section 184.108.40.206. However, the required documentation of support or non-objection was either not provided or did not meet the criteria described in Section 220.127.116.11.3 of the Applicant Guidebook. As per Section 2.3.1 of the Applicant Guidebook, your application is eligible for Extended Evaluation."
Section 2.3.1 of the Applicant Guidebook deals with extended evaluation of Geographic Name strings: "In the case of an application that has been identified as a geographic name requiring government support, but where the applicant has not provided sufficient evidence of support or non-objection from all relevant governments or public authorities by the end of the Initial Evaluation period, the applicant has additional time in the Extended Evaluation period to obtain and submit this documentation. If the applicant submits the documentation to the Geographic Names Panel by the required date, the GNP will perform its review of the documentation as detailed in section 18.104.22.168. If the applicant has not provided the documentation by the required date (at least 90 calendar days from the date of the notice), the application will not pass the Extended Evaluation, and no further reviews are available."
The deadline for DCA's Extended Evaluation is the end of January 2016. We expect there to be NO FURTHER REVIEWS AVAILABLE.
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On 12 May 2014 the International Centre for Dispute Resolution, at the instigation of DCA Trust, issued an interim decision advising the ICANN board to suspend the possible delegation of .africa until the IRP process has been resolved. Prior to this development, the ZACR’s application, having passed Initial Evaluation (IE) and contracting, had been progressing through the final stages of preparing for the technical delegation of the TLD.
As a result of the delegation process being suspended pending the resolution of the IRP proceedings, we have had no option but to delay the impending launch of .africa to the public.
Whilst the current delay is unfortunate and inconvenient, we do not believe that the final IRP decision will in any way change ICANN’s decision to delegate the .africa TLD to the ZACR. The merits supporting ICANN’s decision, underpinned by consensus GAC advice and the new gTLDs applicant guidebook leaves no doubt as to the final outcome of this matter.
The IRP process issued its Final Declaration on the 9th of Juily 2015. The processes that followed this declaration include:
July 14, 2015: Letter from Dr. Elham M.A. Ibrahim to Steve Crocker re: Independent Review Panel (IRP)
July 15, 2015: ZACR Response on the Independent Review Process (IRP) Final Declaration
July 16, 2015: Board Resolutions, Special Meeting of the ICANN Board
July 16, 2015: ICANN to Resume Evaluation of DotConnectAfrica Trust Application for .AFRICA
July 20, 2015: Letter from United Nations Economic Commission for Africa to AUC concerning letter of support
July 31, 2015: .AFRICA IRP Declaration – Clearing Up Some Facts, by John Jeffrey, ICANN's General Counsel & Secretary
July 31, 2015: African Union Commission Communiqué on the declaration of the IRP
January 20, 2016: DotConnect Africa vs. ICANN & ZACR
DCA initiates legal proceedings against ICANN and the ZACR in California, seeks a Preliminary Injunction suspending the delegation of the .AFRICA gTLD to the ZACR.
Follow updates on the litigation process here: http://africainonespace.org/litigation
21 June 2016: Judge denies as moot ZACR's request to reconsideration and vacate Prelimenary Injunction on basis that ZACR no longer a party to the matter.
15 June 2016: Judge dismisses DCA's claims against ZACR
6 May 2016: ZACR files request for judge to reconsider and vacate Prelimenary Injunction
26 April 2016: ZACR joins US litigation process and files Response to DCA's Complaint
12 April 2016: US Court grants Prelimenary Injunction against ICANN, further halting delegation process
4 March 2016: US Court grants Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against ICANN, halting delegation process
3 March 2016: ICANN Board resolution following outcome of DCA Initital (IE) and Extened Evaluation (EE). Instructs CEO and staff to proceed with delegation of .AFRICA to ZACR.
17 February 2016: DCA Extended Evaluation (IE) Results, failing geographic name review again.
28 January 2016: Court Order Denying Plaintiff’s 'Ex Parte' Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause Re Preliminary Injunction
1 December, 2015: GAC Reply to ICANN Board regarding the DCA vs ICANN IRP proceedings
15 October, 2015: Clarfication of the Republic of Kenya's position on the application of the dotAfrica TLD
13 October, 2015: DCA Initial Evaluation (IE) Results, failing geographic name review and opting for Extended Evaluation (EE)
29 September, 2015: Letter from the AUC to the Geographic Names Panel (GNP)
4 September, 2015: 2015 Addis Ababa Declaration of AU Ministers in Charge of Communication and ICT
20 July, 2015: Letter from United Nations Economic Commission for Africa to AUC concerning letter of support
31 July, 2015: .AFRICA IRP Declaration – Clearing Up Some Facts, by John Jeffrey, ICANN's General Counsel & Secretary
31 July, 2015: African Union Commission Communiqué on the declaration of the IRP
16 July, 2015: ICANN to Resume Evaluation of DotConnectAfrica Trust Application for .AFRICA
16 July, 2015: Board Resolutions, Special Meeting of the ICANN Board
15 July, 2015: ZACR Response on the Independent Review Process (IRP) Final Declaration
14 July, 2015: Letter from Dr. Elham M.A. Ibrahim to Steve Crocker re: Independent Review Panel (IRP)
9 July, 2015: IRP Final Declaration
28 June, 2015: STATUS REPORT (dotAfrica Project Team)
24 March, 2015: Procedural Order #5 (A hearing on the merits of the arguments scheduled for 22-23 May 2015)
3 December, 2014: ICANN's Response To DCA's Memorial on the Merits
3 November, 2014: DCA's Memorial on the Merits
12 May, 2014: IRP Decision on Interim Orders of Protection - Suspend ZACR PDT process for .AFRICA
1 October, 2014: STATUS REPORT (dotAfrica Project Team)
29 September, 2014: ICANN response to ZACR (1)
25 September, 2014: IRP Procedural Order #4
20 September, 2014: ZACR letter to ICANN (1)
5 September, 2014: IRP Procedural Order #3
14 August, 2014: Declaration of the IRP Procedure
15 June, 2014: ICANN letter to AUC
13 June, 2014: US Department of Commerce, letter to ICANN Board
2 June, 2014: AUC letter to ICANN regarding IRP
12 May 2014: IRP Panel instructs ICANN to suspend the delegation of .AFRICA
24 March, 2014: ZACR Registry Agreement with ICANN
24 March, 2014: Registry Agreement Signing Ceremony between ICANN and ZACR, witnessed by AUC.
24 October, 2013: Commencement of IRP
13 August, 2013: ICANN Board resolution to deny DCA Reconsideration Request
12 July, 2013: ZACR Applciation passes Initial Evaluation (IE)
2 July, 2013: AUC Letter of support for the .Africa (dotAfrica) TLD application
20 April, 2012 ZACR, with the support of the African Union Commission, files application for .africa geographic TLD during ICANN's new gTLD program.
We have legally binding, unconditional and fully enforceable contract with ICANN. Given what we know about the requirements for geographic names and the unprecedented level of government objection to the DCA application, we simply cannot imagine that we will not be successful.
We believe that ICANN can take some positives away from the IRP Declaration and improve its accountability mechanisms. It is just a pity that .AFRICA had to be drawn into this process.
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