.Africa Contestant blocked by AUC to speak at an ITU event in Addis Ababa

It appears the Africa Union Commission’s epic fight with the .africa contestant DotConnectAfrica is not yet over, according to a recent report: AUC blocks Sophia Bekele from ITU event over DotAfrica dispute .

Sophia Bekele the DCA Executive Director had been invited to give a Key Note speech at the annual Girl’s ICT day on 24th April 2014 in Addis Ababa Ethiopia organized by International Telecommunication Union (ITU). However she had to send her remarks as she could not attend in person due to the last minute intervention barring her honoring the invitation.

Here is the explanation

DCA has commenced an independent review process (IRP) over its “.africa” domain bid with ICANN which is being facilitated by the International Center for Dispute Resolution (ICDR). DCA Trust sent its Notice of IRP in October 2013.  The Notice of IRP came after DCA’s dotAfrica application was not allowed to complete processing to the end of Independent Evaluation (IE) by ICANN as a result of GAC Objection, which DCA stated was “unfair, discriminatory, and lacked appropriate due diligence and care” as well as “anti-competitive”. Its rival – UniForum’s (now renamed ZA Central Registry NPC or Registry.Africa) – application however passed through the IE process.

“Recall I was invited for the ICANN Africa Strategy even at the UNECA, supposedly organized by the AU earlier last year as one of the Experts in the DNS business. Additionally, I was invited as a delegate at the EU/Africa meeting in Brussels few weeks ago and made my comments which were welcome,” adds Sophia.

“Bottom line is if the AU conducts itself in such manner over an African, why should the AU deserve to get the ‘.africa’ pan African TLD identity, as it could also block anyone they do not like either from having the identity or simply from blocking a .africa identity should the person have divergent views?”

The ITU’s “Girls in ICT Day” aims to help inspire girls to consider a future in technology. It was established in 2010 and supports the global organization of activities every year on the fourth Thursday in April. Over 100 countries held events hosted by governments, private sector and NGOs to mark the day last week.

It is a sad state of affairs that previous unsettled disputes can get into the way of empowering initiatives like the ITU’s “Girls in ICT Day” and certainly if such retrogressive interventions occur then Africa is yet to see more derailment.

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