Community or Standard, the Camouflaged future of .africa
When one looks at the African domain applied for it’s a geographic top level domain that has attracted a not so palatable confrontation between the applicants of the current ICANN gTLD round DotConnectAfrica and Uniforum otherwise known as ZA Central registry or AfricainOneSpace.
The main issue that has come to fore apart from the fact that DotConnectAfrica’s application applied as a .africa but came out as a .dotAfrica (and later corrected by ICANN) and Uniforum applied for .africa which has gotten much media attention, one major issue that has taken the African community by storm is the application that Uniforum has submitted, which is for “Not for Community”.
The other critical issue which I noted myself on their application and also their own history of partnerships and alliances is, not in the establishment of the registry but in the organizational structure of Uniforum that has assumed many persona’s from AFTLD, to RFC, to Uniforum, to UNIFORUM ZACR and currently a community camouflage Africaonespace which seem to be hosted on www.dotafrica.org, the domain registered under Nii Quaynor, the Vice Chair of the AU DotAfrica Taskforce and now current Chair of the ICANN Africa Strategy Working group, all in an attempt to find the best entity.
In this strata of confusion also lies several Australian entities such as ARI and Sedari, which brings the issues of the unresolved COI of a Board Member at ICANN and also the question of churning back resources to Africa; when AU by itself doesn’t hold any significant clout much as it’s the endorser as earlier expected and not the industry player it has become.
Coupled with this is the fact that Uniforum’s application and campaign promise was that .africa should be owned by the community, this it would apply for a “Community” string owing to the their campaigns and promises that it would be done for the benefit of the African community, and leading the public to view their initiative as a non profit public benefit project for Africa. Therefore, this issue which Uniforum has downplayed has and is causing significant discussions amongst African is the issue of type of application it submitted to ICANN, basically a non-community.
The larger concern is also given its application went in as a standard application as opposed to the promised Community, it fails to show how the AU or Africans at large would manage it being a major stakeholder, where it now seem to be a stand-alone project.
DotConnectAfrica on the other hand has applied for a standard application and according to their campaign history and promises made, maintained a single and consistent face with the endorsement it has obtained, including its original proposal that it would run a commercially viable registry but went ahead and devolve funds to help the African ailing ccTLD’s and supporting the several non profit projects it already started like generation.africa and miss.africa.
So what is the African application? is it a community or just a standard, either way it falls in as a geographic TLD to benefit the continent, it only remains for the African populace to be careful not to be duped into allowing an amorphous entity to run its gTLD without fully disclosing its internal organs.
Here is a true comparison of the two bid representation at ICANN.