Daily Wrap: ICANN Commences New gTLD Evaluations, Competing African gTLDs and .FREE Application Comparisons

ICANN commenced its initial evaluation of the 1930 applications for new generic Top Level Domains (new gTLDs) on 12 July, sources have told Domain Pulse.

A report on Domain Incite also notes that evaluations have commenced, but the report also notes that it’s not known how evaluations will take place following the collapse of the digital archery method last month.

In Africa, there are two firms competing for similar African gTLDs – one for .AFRICA, the other for .DOTAFRICA – applied for by UniForum SA (NPC) trading as Registry.Africa (ZACR) and DotConnectAfrica Trust respectively.

A report in Kenya’s The Standard says that both parties “have however been at each other, both laying claim to having the blessings of [African Union] and each accusing the other of bending the rules and even manipulating politicians at the AU level for political backing. The endorsement is an ICANN requirement.”

Neil Dundas, executive director of ZACR, told The Standard his firm has mobilised 70 per cent of African governments to write to ICANN, endorsing the firm’s bid to be the domain’s registrar.

Sophia Bekele, executive director Dot Connect Africa however told the paper her firm was first to be endorsed by AU in 2009 – an endorsement that she said still stands.

The article notes that Bekele “even has a letter signed by Jean Ping who has been the chair of the African Union Commission. Ping was the AUC chair till last week when he was replaced by Dlamini-Zuma, a wife to South African president Jacob Zuma. In the letter, Ping offered AU’s assistance in mobilising African ministers and governments to rally behind Dot Connect Africa in getting the rights to administer DOTAFRICA.”

There were five applications for the .FREE gTLD and DomainNameWire looks at the competing applications and their plans if they’re successful. The applicants were Donuts, Amazon, Google, Top Level Domain Holdings and Uniregistry.