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ICANN may now delegate .africa domain name to ZACR

ICANN may now delegate .africa domain name to ZACR

The impasse over the .africa domain name allocation may soon be over as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announces it can now follow its normal processes to delegate it based on the terms of its Registry Agreement with ZA Central Registry.

It says the development was made possible by a California Superior Court's denial of the second Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by DotConnectAfrica, one of the contenders for the allocation, to stop the delegation of the generic top-level domain (gTLD) to the opposing party, ZACR, on February 3.

The battle over who gets the right to manage the .africa domain name has been indecisive since DCA filed a prolonged lawsuit in January 2016 when it applied for a temporary restraining order requiring ICANN not to issue the gTLD .africa pending trial.

The competition between DCA and ZACR started when ICANN launched the New gTLD programme in 2012 and invited interested parties to act as operator that will assign names and maintain its database of names and IP addresses. A year later, ICANN rejected DCA's application based on the advice that it has issues with regional endorsement while ZACR's continued.

A review panel's recommendation brought the DCA back into the evaluation phase in 2015 but ICANN later deemed its application as insufficient to go beyond the stage. Hence, DCA sued ICANN before a district court in California early 2016 when it moved for and got a temporary restraining order and subsequently a preliminary injunction that stopped ICANN from taking further action.

ZACR, joined by ICANN, filed a motion of reconsideration but it was denied. By October 2016, the district court remanded the case to the Superior Court where DCA moved for the same preliminary injunction it had entered with the district court to be applied but it was denied in December 2016.

The injunction that was denied this month is similar to the one denied in December according to the copy of the litigation filed with the Superior Court with the only meaningful difference being that DCA made the move under alternative cause of actions.

According to the summary of an online discussion prepared by Jean Paul Nkurunziza of Burundi Youth Training Center and ISOC Burundi on behalf of DiploFoundation, the .Africa domain is a symbol of African unity and it will help to establish Africa's identity within the emerging knowledge society era.

It is also expected to enhance the creativity of African youth leading to socio-economic development as it would bring new business horizons to the African market and benefit organisations to avoid other generic domain names.

In the latest ruling signed by Judge Howard Halm, the court notes that the public interest weighs in favour of the denial because the delay in delegating the domain name is depriving Africans of access to a unique gTLD. It also states that DCA did not provide new evidence of harm to be considered. Whereas ZACR proved that it has been incurring financial costs without corresponding benefits due to the delay in the delegation of the .africa domain name.

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