Employing Obsequiousness to Blackmail ICANN over .africa gTLD

“If ICANN were to delegate the gTLD to DCA despite the AUC’s endorsement of UniForum, it is likely that the AUC would lose faith in ICANN and its structures.”

The statement above that is part of Uniforum’s reply to the Independent Objector  is reminiscent of the bureaucracy that is magnificent in the existing structures that have derailed a bottom up process in the ICANN espoused multistakeholder model.

The ICANN process has been increasingly put to test based on the happenings in the new gTLD process. Africa is the continent that applied for the fewest number of gTLD applications, yet its also home to what would probably qualify as the most discussed domain and that is .africa which has been put forward by two furiously competing organizations DotConnectAfrica and the AU sponsored Uniforum.

The major reason of the fights has been the process by which one of the applicants Uniforum has used to try and defeat the issues of transparency which DotConnectAfrica in a series of letters to ICANN has written lately that “UniForum’s posturing is very unethical and entirely self-serving” which is a strong statement by DotConnectAfrica to say that Uniforum is not indeed serving the interests of Africa as it has alleged.

In their response to the Independent Objector, Uniforum have said:

“If ICANN were to delegate the gTLD to DCA despite the AUC’s endorsement of UniForum, it is likely that the AUC would lose faith in ICANN and its structures.” 

Which DotConnectAfrica have come out to strongly protest responding:

“We think that ICANN must not be blackmailed by UniForum ZA Central Registry, and must be allowed to demonstrate its independence, and not be daunted by the political and diplomatic influence of the African Union Commission as an inter-governmental organization.

In their attempt to justify asking for the Independent objector to object based on Community grounds, Uniforum state:

“While all forming part of the African community, these groups are unlikely to be able to submit a single, coherent objection. The size and disparate nature of the African continent and the separate agendas of these groups would make it difficult to co-ordinate such an objection.”

This is however despite Uniforum’s allegation that they have a large support of the African government which obviously have been accessed through the African Union blanket accords.

Any machinations to bundle African governments together to  a chorus of a similar reply doesn’t make any sense given  the sharp differences as experienced in the diverse African mosaic as well as in regional meetings. The ITU Dubai WCIT is a good example of why Africa must not be put in one basket but rather allowed to understand the ICANN process then give recommendations accordingly.

It is quite obvious that UniForum is actually attempting to intimidate ICANN by holding up its presumed ‘almightiness’ of the AUC as something that should be factored by ICANN in the delegation decision of .Africa.   We find this not only deplorable but also rather patronizing, said DCA in its letter of compliant to ICANN.

Such moves and actions that curtail the accepted multistakeholder process that ICANN is trying to sell. This will also sharply erode the confidence of any country that wants to make its own independent decisions that concern the DNS business. In a multistakholder environment, everyone should be listened to and no one is superior than the other.   It is the same method that the AU was trying to have the .africa TLD reserved for itself at the Dakar ministerial meeting ,which ICANN rejected stating that we cannot give the AU a preferential treatment and was declared victory for DotConnectAfrica.

DotConnectAfrica letter to ICANN can be found here

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