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ICANN Resolutions » .AFRICA Update

Important note: The Board Resolutions are as reported in the Board Meeting Transcripts, Minutes & Resolutions portion of ICANN's website. Only the words contained in the Resolutions themselves represent the official acts of the Board. The explanatory text provided through this database (including the summary, implementation actions, identification of related resolutions, and additional information) is an interpretation or an explanation that has no official authority and does not represent the purpose behind the Board actions, nor does any explanations or interpretations modify or override the Resolutions themselves. Resolutions can only be modified through further act of the ICANN Board.

.AFRICA Update


Resolution of the ICANN Board
Topic: 
Delegation of .AFRICA
Summary: 

Delegation of .AFRICA to be operated by ZACR pursuant to the Registry Agreement that ZACR has entered with ICANN.

Category: 
gTLDs
Meeting Date: 
Thu, 3 Mar 2016
Resolution Number: 
2016.03.03.01
Resolution Text: 

Whereas, in its 11 April 2013 Beijing Communiqué, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) provided consensus advice pursuant to the Applicant Guidebook that DotConnectAfrica Trust's (DCA)'s application for .AFRICA should not proceed.

Whereas, on 4 June 2013, the New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC) adopted the "NGPC Scorecard of 1As Regarding Non-Safeguard Advice in the GAC Beijing Communiqué," which included acceptance of the GAC's advice related to DCA's application for .AFRICA. (See https://www.icann.org/resources/board-material/resolutions-new-gtld-2013...)

Whereas, staff informed DCA of and published the "Incomplete" Initial Evaluation result and halted evaluation of DCA's application for .AFRICA on 3 July 2013 based on the NGPC resolution of 4 June 2013.

Whereas, on 25 November 2013, DCA initiated an Independent Review Process (IRP) regarding the 4 June 2013 resolution, but did not at that time seek to stay ICANN from moving forward the ZA Central Registry NPC trading as Registry.Africa's (ZACR) application.

Whereas, on 24 March 2014, ZACR executed a Registry Agreement (RA) for .AFRICA.

Whereas, on 13 May 2014 ICANN halted further progress with respect to ZACR's RA for .AFRICA following the IRP Panel's interim declaration that ICANN should stop proceeding with ZACR's application for .AFRICA during the pendency of the IRP that DCA had initiated.

Whereas, on 9 July 2015, the IRP Panel issued its Final Declaration and recommended that ICANN continue to refrain from delegating the .AFRICA gTLD in order to permit DCA's application to proceed through the remainder of the new gTLD application process. (See https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/final-declaration-2-redacted... [PDF, 1.04 MB])

Whereas, on 16 July 2015, the Board directed the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to continue to refrain from delegating the .AFRICA gTLD and to take all steps necessary to resume the evaluation of DCA's application for .AFRICA in accordance with the established process(es). (See https://www.icann.org/resources/board-material/resolutions-2015-07-16-en...)

Whereas, on 1 September 2015, evaluation of DCA's application for .AFRICA resumed.

Whereas, on 13 October 2015, the Initial Evaluation report based on the Geographic Names Panel's review of DCA's application was posted and indicated that DCA's application did not pass Initial Evaluation, but that DCA was therefore eligible for Extended Evaluation; DCA chose to proceed through Extended Evaluation.

Whereas, on 17 February 2016, an Extended Evaluation report was posted and indicated that the resumed evaluation of DCA's application for .AFRICA had concluded, and that DCA had failed to submit information and documentation sufficient to meet the criteria described in AGB Section 2.2.1.4.3, rendering it ineligible for further review or evaluation.

Resolved (2016.03.03.01), the Board authorizes the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to proceed with the delegation of .AFRICA to be operated by ZACR pursuant to the Registry Agreement that ZACR has entered with ICANN.

Rationale for Resolution: 

Two applicants, DotConnectAfrica Trust (DCA) and ZA Central Registry trading as Registry.Africa (ZACR), applied to be become the operator for the .AFRICA generic top-level domain (gTLD) in furtherance of ICANN's New gTLD Program. In its 11 April 2013 Beijing Communiqué, ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) provided consensus advice pursuant to the New gTLD Program's Applicant Guidebook (Guidebook) that DCA's application to operate .AFRICA should not proceed. The Board accepted that GAC advice, evaluation of DCA's application was halted, and ICANN proceeded to execute a Registry Agreement with the other applicant that applied to operate .AFRICA.

DCA challenged the GAC advice that DCA's application should not proceed, and the Board's acceptance of that advice, through the Independent Review Process (IRP). The IRP is one of the accountability mechanisms set out in ICANN's Bylaws. First, only after ICANN signed a registry agreement to operate .AFRICA with the other .AFRICA applicant, did DCA obtained interim relief from an IRP panel recommending that ICANN not proceed further with .AFRICA pending conclusion of the IRP. ICANN adopted that recommendation. Second, DCA prevailed in the IRP and the IRP Panel recommended that ICANN resume evaluation of DCA's application and continue to refrain from delegating .AFRICA to the party with which ICANN already had executed a Registry Agreement to operate the .AFRICA gTLD.

On 16 July 2015 the Board passed the following resolution:

Resolved (2015.07.15.01), the Board has considered the entire Declaration, and has determined to take the following actions based on that consideration:

ICANN shall continue to refrain from delegating the .AFRICA gTLD;
ICANN shall permit DCA's application to proceed through the remainder of the new gTLD application process as set out below; and
ICANN shall reimburse DCA for the costs of the IRP as set forth in paragraph 150 of the Declaration.
(See https://www.icann.org/resources/board-material/resolutions-2015-07-16-en....)

When the Board passed the above resolution, the only remaining evaluation process for DCA's application for .AFRICA during the Initial Evaluation (IE) period was the Geographic Names Panel review, as DCA had successfully completed the other stages of IE. Accordingly, at staff's request, in August 2015, the Geographic Names Panel resumed its evaluation of DCA's application to operate .AFRICA. The Geographic Names Panel determined that .AFRICA is a geographic name as defined in Guidebook Section 2.2.1.4, but that the DCA's application to operate .AFRICA has not sufficiently met the requisite criteria of possessing evidence of support or non-opposition from 60% of the relevant public authorities in the geographic region of Africa, as described in AGB Section 2.2.1.4.3.

Per the Guidebook, having failed to pass IE, DCA was eligible and chose to proceed to Extended Evaluation (EE), which provided DCA with an additional 90 days to obtain the requisite documentation needed to pass the Geographic Names Panel review. On 17 February 2016, EE results were posted showing that DCA again did not satisfy the necessary criteria to pass the Geographic Names Panel review, rendering, DCA's application ineligible for any further review.

Now that both IE and EE have been completed for DCA's application to operate .AFRICA, and both have resulted in DCA not passing the Geographic Names Panel review, ICANN is prepared to move forward toward delegation of .AFRICA and with the party that has signed a Registry Agreement to operate .AFRICA. The party that has signed the Registry Agreement to operate .AFRICA is eager to move forward so that members of the African community can begin utilizing this gTLD. Further, as there are no remaining avenues available to DCA to proceed in the New gTLD Program, there is no reason within defined Guidebook processes to delay any further.

Accordingly, the Board today is authorizing the President and CEO or his designee(s), to resume delegating the .AFRICA gTLD, and all that entails, which it has previously directed ICANN to refrain from doing.

Taking this action is beneficial to ICANN and the overall Internet community, as it will allow delegation of the .AFRICA gTLD into the authoritative root zone. There likely will be a positive fiscal impact by taking this action in that there will be another operational gTLD. This action will not have a direct impact on the security, stability and resiliency of the domain name system.

This is an Organizational Administrative Function that does not require public comment.