" ITREALMS: Second new gTLDs: Another chance for African registrars? - ITREALMS

Monday, August 07, 2023

Second new gTLDs: Another chance for African registrars? - ITREALMS

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ICANN board in 98 recommendations:
Obviously in compliance with the direction of the Board of Directors of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) at its meeting during the ICANN76 Community Forum in Cancún, Mexico; where some 98 recommendations were adopted regarding the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process Final Report as set forth in Section A of the Scorecard: Subsequent Procedures (SubPro PDP), the ICANN organization (org), kick-started the preliminary preparations to ensure official proclamation by August 1, 2023, including outreach engagement to stakeholders.
Second new gTLDs: Another chance for African registrars? - ITREALMS
The ICANN76 meeting that held between March 11 and 16, 2023, thus set in motion the commencement of the implementation process for the next round of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs).

What is new gTLDs:
The new gTLD is a top-level domain (TLD) name on the Internet sponsored by entities such as a community, industry group or a well-established company, such as .awka, .umuosite, .awba-ofemili, .quebec, .ezu, .vacations and .Mecam. This paves the way for our everyday words, company names, brands, cities and towns to become a top-level Internet domain name alongside well-known domains such as .com and .org.

ICANN launched the new gTLD programme in 2011, and the application fee was $185,000, about N140,326,200.00 and the evaluation process took up to a year. As of 2020, there are over 1000 new gTLDs, such as .salon, .furniture, .fishing and .ford to name a few.

The Afregistrars association includes all ICANN Accredited Registrars based on the African continent. The AfRegistrars tend to fulfill the role, responsibilities and functions of the AFREGISTRARS as defined within the ICANN Bylaws as referenced at [ICANN-bylaws]. The current chairman is Mouhmet Diop, who doubles as the President and Chief Executive Officer, Kheweul.com.SA.

The Four Deliverables:
However, as part of the ICANN 76 resolution, the Board directed ICANN.org to deliver a comprehensive implementation plan, including a work plan, information for the infrastructure design, timelines, and anticipated resource requirements to achieve the necessary work to open the next round of gTLDs no later than 1 August 2023.

So, it was a timely delivery of the comprehensive implementation plan required for the satisfactory completion of the following four deliverables by 15 June 2023, the last day of the ICANN77 Policy Forum.

A plan and timeline as agreed upon by the ICANN Board and the GNSO Council for consideration and resolution of all outputs contained in Section B of the Scorecard.

A working methodology and Implementation Review Team work plan and timeline as agreed upon by ICANN org and the GNSO Council.

A GNSO Council project plan and timeline for policy work, or an alternate path, on how to handle closed generics for the next round of new gTLDs.

A project plan from the GNSO Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) Working Group (WG) identifying all charter questions that will impact the next Applicant Guidebook, along with considerations to ensure a consistent solution on IDN variant TLDs with the the fourth country code policy development process on IDN country code top-level domains and a timeline by when the IDNs EPDP WG will deliver relevant recommendations to the GNSO Council.

Future of the Internet:
Reacting to this development, ICANN board chair, Tripti Sinha enjoined stakeholders to work together to ensure the resiliency, security, and future of the Internet, stressing that the remaining over 30 recommendations require collaboration between the ICANN community, Board, and org. Describing the development as a tremendous opportunity for ICANN board precisely to commit the resources and effort necessary to solve thorny issues and achieve the shared goal of launching the next round of new gTLDs.

As part of its action, the Board also authorized the ICANN Interim President and CEO, Ms Sally to spend up to US$9 million to fund the implementation work through 31 October 2023. The source for this funding is the remaining funds of the 2012 new gTLD round.

Also, the Board directed the org to continue its outreach and communications strategy to promote the New gTLD Programme to prospective applicants, with an emphasis on encouraging uptake from potential applicants in currently under-served or underrepresented regions to enable the introduction of new gTLDs (including both ASCII and IDN) into the domain name space, as noted in the SubPro PDP Final Report.

To ensure transparency, the Board also directed ICANN org to publish reports on the progress and status of implementation until the opening of the next application round at least two weeks prior to the start of each ICANN Public Meeting, starting with the ICANN77 Policy Forum.

Message of hope:
Speaking at the 2023 Africa Engagement Forum (AEF) that held in Accra-Ghana in July, the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Senior Director at ICANN, Mr. Bob Ochieng, provided a status update on ICANN’s work regarding the implementation of the next round following the adoption of the Subpro Final Report. He also provided some experiences from the 2012 round, while expecting that African Registrars and players in DNS industry will tap into the potentials of the new gTLDs.

The session on Africa and new gTLDs moderated by the Secretary-General of AfTLD, Mr. Barrack Otieno, saw the likes of chief executive officer of ZA Central Registry, Mr. Lucky Masilela, Thabo Mashegoane of Africa ICT Alliance, Ms Adeola Raji, Manager Cloud Services at Upperlink and Fe;lix Ndayirukiye, Director at BINIC .bi Manager espousing on the subject.

Mr. Lucy pledged that they will support African registries to leverage previous experiences, Mr. Thabo assured of his Alliance readiness to participant, whereas Ms Raji highlighted a few challenges of the previous including lack of interest among African DNS stakeholders, she advocated for the lessons from the previous round to be taken seriously so as to make the latest round a success on the continent, especially by removing any hidden strings on the Applicant Support Fund scheme.

Earlier, the Vice President, Stakeholder Engagement for Africa at ICANN, Mr. Pierre Dandjnou assured of support from his office and beckon on African registrars to embrace the new gTLD as it opens by August 1, 2023.

He pointed out that ICANN's mission remains to help ensure a stable, secure, and unified global Internet. ICANN, therefore, helps to coordinate and support the unique identifiers across the world, since its formation in 1998 as a nonprofit public benefit corporation with a community of participants from all over the world.

Bearing in mind that out of the 1930 applications received in the first round deadline by May 2012, some 1000+new gTLD names or “strings” possible, and some 850+new gTLDs were introduced into the DNS Root Zone, while some 23 names were as at October 2013 delegated as first new gTLD (.شبكة) in the internationalised domain name sphere.

Moreso, given its potentials for entrepreneurship, as experts posited that the new gTLD Programme has spurred new businesses, not only through the creation of registries, but also in marketing, research and technology.

Considering that out of the1930 applications received, Africa filled about four (4) which did not eventually made it successfully, so the time to embrace new gTLD is now.

From the comments at AEF2023, its obvious, African Registrars are excited to delve into this second round in a different way and manner that will place the continent on ICANN strategically.

One question stakeholders have been asking since the board approved final report for the implementation of the process was how active will Africa be, more so there is even Applicant Support programme?

Will African registrars explore this which offers qualified candidates the opportunity to pay a reduced evaluation fee of USD 47,000 instead of the full evaluation fee of USD 185,000 among other benefits.

A deliberate collaboration with the Coalition for Digital Africa (C4DA) could be a spur towards achieving African Registrar participation in the current second round for the new gTLD.

Taking this second round of new gTLDs seriously, will show African Registrars have come of age, beginning with ensuring that their website is fortified with relevant information for its membership and African populace. After all the next registrar could be your next door neighbour by increasing the number of applicants with anticipation of scaling through the process.

Only time will tell if Africa will leverage this opportunity.

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