“Case far from Closed” says BBC: Unsuccessful ICANN interview on .africa Cover up

ICANN chair Dr Stephen Crocker and CEO Fadi Chehade
ICANN chair Dr Stephen Crocker and CEO Fadi Chehade

In an interesting follow up response to last week’s BBC Click Program discussion on .Africa  dispute, the head of the ICANN’s Global Domains Division Akram Atallah  tried to clarify the issue of the wrongdoing and alleged coverup make by ICANN on the  .africa DCA VS ICANN IRP  case, which DCA prevailed in.

Most interestingly, he wasted much of his air time talking about the application process such as endorsements and consensus GAC advise which has already been identified as irregular by the IRP panel,  instead of clarifying the real issue of what the BBC was asking, an alleged cover up of the final report from the final ruling.  Inadvertently and/or knowingly, he also confirmed the long standing position of what ICANN, AUC  and the vested interest African community has falsely claimed as ” AUC application”,  while DCA has always argued the private company ZACR  is the applicant for the .africa.

The BBC podcast was a follow up of last weeks ICANN’s dotAfrica Dispute,  episode where

 “It is alleged that staff at domain-name overseer ICANN repeatedly rejected independent expert advice to ensure the dotAfrica top-level domain was won by their preferred applicant – and then tried to hide their influence by censoring the results of an independent inquiry into the affair. Click discusses the fallout from these allegations.

Reports from the IRP show that ICANN in coordination with Interconnect a contractor for the geographic evaluation panel drafted a letter which was then duly signed by the AUC and sent back to ICANN as the only key piece of evidence to show that ZACR had sufficient support for its bid, and just a week later ICANN signed a contract with ZACR to run .africa.   ZACR though did not have any valid endorsement, they were at the same level with DCA Trust who would also be required to rely solely on the UNECA and AUC endorsements.  Without these two,  both applicants would not qualify to pass the geographic review panel.

Akram in this followup with BBC already claimed to paint DCA Trust as “unsuccessful applicant” without  finishing the process where ZACR did not have an endorsement.

Akram tried to delve into the history of the .africa by alluding that the ICANN Board took the advice of the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), however the GAC advice was heavily criticized by the IRP panelists who faulted GAC for not giving any rational for their decision. The ICANN board was equally chastised for taking the GAC advice at face value and failing to do due diligence and probe the reasons.

Was AUC dupped in the .africa Application
Nothing can be far from the truth, however, the .Africa application filed by ZACR has repeatedly been referred to as the Africa Unions Commission (AUC) application to allow it pass the Geo name panel with the endorsement submitted by African Governments to AUC instead of ZACR.   However after the IRP results, the tone has changed and the application is strictly referred to by ICANN  as “ZACR .africa application”.  So was Africa Union duped into believing that this was their application? ZACR formerly Uniforum had promised to apply for a community application but after giving such an impression failed to do so and directly competed with the DCA Trust’s standard application.

AUC application vs ZACR application:  Can someone tell us the truth?

The Africa Union Commission representatives at ICANN GAC continue also profusely attributed the ZACR application as the AUC application which is not true as it is not reflected in any documents, instead the AUC cannot claim anything on the .africa registry after all said and done.

During the London ICANN 50 Press Conference, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade while answering the press quoting .africa as an example of accountability processes also did erroneously state that .africa belonged to Africa union by stating that

“Similarly the Africa where single applicant has filed an IRP she decided that this is her right and it her right and we should let her pursue her right even if the whole African Union has a different view her right is to say I don’t agree with the decision.”

Watch the rest of the video below

After the IRP, it is in the details that the .Africa application by ZACR said to belong to the AUC is indeed not Africa Union’s application.   So the Africa Union representatives might want to seek answers as to what is in the documents.

While it was purported that ZACR has given the rights of the database and Intellectual property to the AU in a separate contract, it may not be the case as this is not tenable in the applicant guide book.

One of the speakers at the BBC Click interview stated that .Africa case will not be closed, noting that

“I don’t think it will be closed because it is incredibly complicated…it is about judgment and process that cannot be absolute…ICANN cannot have a good response because there is no good way to do this.”

If ICANN fails .africa application by DCA Trust that has been taken to the evaluation panel as a result of the independent review panel’ ruling, that will effectively nullify ZACR’s application since both applications have the same level of endorsement.

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