ICANN has currently placed the GAC advice that was given during the 46th meeting in Beijing China, according to the announcement
“On 11 April 2013, the Governmental Advisory Committee issued its Beijing Communiqué in which it provided advice on New gTLDs. The Board New gTLD Committee, acting on behalf of the full Board, will now consider how to address the GAC Advice. To help inform this process, the Committee has directed staff to solicit comment on how it should address one element of the advice: safeguards applicable to broad categories of New gTLD strings. Accordingly, ICANN seeks public input on how the Board New gTLD Committee should address section IV.1.b and Annex I of the GAC Beijing Communiqué.”
As ICANN solicits the advice, GAC has come under sharp criticism for how their meeting came about with what
“The GAC has reached consensus on GAC Objection Advice according to Module 3.1 part I of the Applicant Guidebook on the following applications:3. The application for .africa (Application number 1-1165-42560)”
There was not a proper quorum against DCA at GAC Beijing
The main issues have been particularly on probable ill advice bundled to DotConnectAfrica, which took many ICANN participants including Africans by surprise. Representation during the meeting was quite an important playing factor in the way the decisions were made. One representative from Kenya Ms. Munyua is believed to be the person who single handedly influenced the “unanimous” decision.
Ms. Munyua who is an official of the Uniforum SA, Steercom, the competing bidder for .africa, has been the biggest voice lobbying for the legitimization of Uniforum and also the confirmation of unseen endorsement letters that have been continuously referred to as leverage for the Uniforum. These claims have given the applicant false confidence and has even gone ahead to declare that “Now we are finally moving out of the application phase, thanks to government support, and are ready to start planning the launch and marketing of the new local domain names.” Profusely expressing gratitude to an unconfirmed support.
According to sources inside GAC, it was also reported that there was not a proper quorum to make such decisions and that it was left to the representatives from the continent to ‘battle out’ among themselves. At this point Michael Katundu advised on the Kenyan advice and a letter from Sammy Buruchara was sent. Therefore the decision came mostly by how convincing a representative was, this means that the consensus lacked and rather authority of the allegedly Kenyan representative Alice flagging the old AU position for prevailed.
Uniforum’s Representative Alice Munyua’s arguments at GAC was anchored on an outdated AU support letter from Kenya, a support rejected by ICANN.
Another issue that lacked clarity with the Kenyan position to the AU was that the GAC members were not privy to the letter from the government of Kenya that endorsed DotConnectAfrica as a bidder to ICANN and rather an outdated letter of support to the AU, which purported the request for a “.africa” name “reservations”, (a request already rejected by ICANN) was flagged as a support for Uniforum. An excerpt of the endorsement for DCA from Kenya read :
“I would like to express the support of my government of the ‘dotafrica’ initiative adding that .africa expects to reinvest surpluses in relevant socio- technological advancement initiatives..under the sponsorship of DotConnectAfrica”
Kenya’s Current GAC Representatives voice was disregarded
Further the formal advice by a new GAC representative was disregarded and not considered because it was considered dissenting to the advice to support Uniforum had in GAC. The letter from Kenya GAC appointee which was sent to GAC Chair, Secretary and copied to the ICANN CEO says
As the newly appointed Kenyan Government advisor to the GAC, I wish to inform you that I was not able to attend the Beijing meeting due to an unforeseen personal circumstance.
It has come to my attention that Alice Munyua has introduced herself as the Kenya’s gov representative to the GAC.
This is inform you that Kenya does not stand by what Alice states in the GAC since she ceased to be the Kenyan Government advisor for GAC on the day of my appointment.
Further, should the situation arise, Kenya does not wish to have a GAC advise on DotConnect Africa Application for .africa delegation.
Additionally, the Kenya GAC representative Michel Katundu’s comments and arguments over the AU and its transparency issues over the RFP was scolded by the AU representative and dismissed.
GAC has therefore misadvised ICANN going by the findings as laid out pre and post GAC advice and its in the interest of the public that ICANN properly looks into the matter and analyze its completeness in order to make the process fair and transparent.