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African Union requests proposals for .africa domain registry

o Rebecca Wanjiku
25.05.2011 kl 21:41 | Computerworld Kenya

The African Union Commission has sent out an expression of interest (EOI) for companies interested in managing the .africa domain, raising questions over its previous endorsement of Dot Connect Africa (DCA), one of the bidding companies.

 

The African Union Commission has sent out an expression of interest (EOI) for companies interested in managing the .africa domain, raising questions over its previous endorsement of Dot Connect Africa (DCA), one of the bidding companies.

The process of selecting the first registrar for .africa has attracted two organizations -- the DCA and the Africa TLD organization (AfTLD).

In a document posted on the AU website, Moctar Yedaly, head of the organizations' information society division, invited interested parties to send their profiles, including their registration certificates, audited financial accounts as well as verifiable experience of registry management in the past three years.

"It is expected that the Africa small and medium-size enterprises will greatly benefit from DotAfrica, as they thrive beyond their local markets to invade the regional and continental marketplace," added Yedaly in the document.

In the EOI document, Yedaly says that the decision to set up the registry follows acknowledgement by the African Union heads of state that .africa will benefit pan-African businesses and organizations, and a request by African ministers for the AU to "set up structures and modalities for implementation of Dot Africa Project."

The EOI has attracted mixed reactions, with the DCA dismissing it as a scheme to manipulate public opinion. The DCA noted that it had already received endorsement from the AU.

"The DCA already expressed interest by proposing the DotAfrica initiative to the African Union Commission in 2006 and again in 2008, and after a rigorous process of making technical presentations, meetings, clarifications and exchange of correspondence with the Commission, the AU in 2009, issued DCA with an official endorsement of the Initiative proposed," according to a statement from the DCA.

On its part, AfTLD has embraced the recent efforts by the AU, including the EOI.

"We welcome the approach taken by the AU in the .africa matter; it shows AU's commitment to openness and transparency in its intention to endorse a suitable bidder to bid for .africa during the ICANN new gTLD application round," said Vika Mpisane, the AfTLD's president.

Mpisane said that the EOI shows that the AU had not endorsed any bidder and AfTLD will be responding to the EOI.

"Any claim of past endorsements is now clearly proven to be nothing but an unsubstantiated and unreliable claim; AfTLD will be responding to both the AU and ICANN processes because we believe we possess the right acumen and pool of skills and resources to successfully operate .africa for the true benefit of the African Internet communities," added Mpisane.

In its reaction to the AU, DCA claims that it cannot participate in the process because it is skewed to favor AfTLD.

"Since the AU Task Force members have already expressed interest on DotAfrica, and have also openly supported AfTLD .... it is therefore clear to one and all that the AU Task Force on DotAfrica is tainted, because its members who are in a sinister confederacy with AfTLD are manifestly leading the organization astray by floating wrong and unworkable proposals, whilst pushing an opaque and illegal agenda," according to the statement from DCA.

DCA is demanding that the AU commission stop the EOI process and reinstate its previous endorsement, adding that failure to halt the process will damage the institutional credibility of the AU.

Keywords: Internet  
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