The battle for the rights to issue the .africa domain looks like it may soon be over, as the organisation responsible for maintaining the domain name structures, ICANN, and DotConnectAfrica (DCA) are due to meet in court next month to find out if ICANN will be allowed to release .africa to the South African Central Registry (ZACR) for use.
If you’ve not been following the toing and froing over .africa, there’s a breakdown of the history over here. The tl;dr version is that ICANN wants to allow ZACR to begin issuing .africa addresses, but DCA its application for the rights to .africa was a) better and b) ruled out without proper consideration. The upshot is that while .africa should have gone live two years ago, when other generic Top Level Domains (gTLD) like .joburg went live (around the time we launched this site – that’s why we chose the name), but has been held up in a legal battle.
The African Union has backed ZACR in the dispute.
So far, DCA has managed to get its application back on the table for consideration. On the 3rd March*, ICANN’s board passed a resolution finally disallowing DCA’s application and authorising the release of .africa to ZACR, but in a press release issued over the weekend, ICANN says that an Temporary Restraining Order has been issued against it to prevent it from releasing the .africa gTLD before the legal issues are resolved. The order has been brought by DCA, and the court says that if .africa is released to its rival now, even if DCA wins its legal battle it’ll be too late to revoke someone else’s rights.
ICANN, on the other hand, says it will be making a written submission to the court prior to an oral hearing on 4 April, explaining why it should be allowed to get on release .africa regardless of the greater legal battle. Which effectively means ZACR could be allowed to issue .africa domains straight after that court date.
Or not. We await with baited breath.
*We missed this piece of news in the original story – apologies for that.