Put this one in the category labeled “ironic.” You can also put this under “Maarten Botterman could go down in history as the worst pen-pal ever.”
As it turns out, the African Union has been unable to register the domain of its choice in the.africa generic top-level domain (gTLD), despite the fact that the AU’s support was a crucial and divisive deal-breaker for the.africa gTLD. This is because rules insisted upon by governments have prevented the African Union from doing so.
Kwesi Quartey, the vice chair of the African Union Commission, submitted a request to ICANN requesting that the word “au” be removed from the list of strings that all contracted registrants are required to agree to reserve because they resemble the names or acronyms of international organizations (IGOs).
Because the AU is an IGO, the string that it uses cannot be registered by anybody, not even the AU itself.
In a letter to the chair of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Quartey wrote the following: Unfortunately, the inclusion of the AU label within the IGO List had the unintended consequence of preventing any third party, including the African Union, from registering the acronym as a domain name (au.africa). Despite this, there is an urgent need to change the digital identifier of the African Union on the internet from au.int to the.
Botterman instantly went into action and dispatched his urgent reply, waiting just 21 short months from Quartey’s July 2020 urgent plea to hurriedly pass the responsibility to the Governmental Advisory Committee.
According to what he said, only the GAC has the authority to request that a protected term be removed from the list. The ICANN Organization and Board have their hands tied in this situation.
In addition, removing “au” off the list will free it in all generic top-level domains (gTLDs), which might open the door for third parties to register it in hundreds of more zones. Botterman warned that this is something to keep an eye out for.
Because it is identical to the Australian country code top-level domain (ccTLD), Australia has rights to the same string under an entirely different new generic top-level domain (gTLD) program reserved list, which was not mentioned in the letter. Depending on the circumstances, this may be advantageous or disadvantageous to Australia.
You’ll no doubt remember that.
.africa was a contentious application for a generic top-level domain, and the backing of the AU was the determining element.
After the launch of the new generic top-level domain scheme, the African Union (AU) withdrew its support for DotConnectAfrica’s proposal and instead held a registration tender, which was ultimately won by ZA Central Registry, the organization that is currently in charge of operating the.africa domain.
Since then, DCA has taken ICANN to arbitration and the courts to pursue this matter against the latter.