18(b) How do you expect that your proposed gTLD will benefit registrants, Internet users, and others?
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i. The ICANN new gTLD programme will make it possible to have more Internet domain names beyond the current 22 generic Top-Level Domain names, and two-code country Top Level Domains (ccTLDs), thus providing users and registrants with a wider choice in the type of domain names they can register. The introduction of the DotAfrica gTLD will increase and widen the choice of domain names available to registrants since this will also make DotAfrica domain names available to users who wish to use it for different purposes such as creative marketing, innovation and branding of businesses, products, and services, thus consolidating the ‘African Brand’ on the global Internet platform. DotAfrica is expected to promote an African identity on the Internet by boosting Africa’s online presence and visibility on the Internet.
DotAfrica gTLD will therefore have the reputation as the domain name of choice for promoting African brands (brands.africa) and identity on a global scale, as Internet domain names creatively use the DotAfrica name extension for a wide range of local and global products, services, brands, companies, etc. It will be typified by high levels of quality service to users and registrants.
The geographic name ‘Africa’ will uniquely position the DotAfrica gTLD to specialize in all things that relate to Africa, in a way that presents vast opportunities for all those who are interested in Africa for any possible number of reasons.
ii: It is widely anticipated that the programme to introduce new top‐level domains has the potential to promote competition in the provision of registry services, to add to consumer choice, market differentiation and geographical and service‐provider diversity. (See for example http:⁄⁄www.icann.org⁄en⁄news⁄announcements⁄announcement-09nov10-en.htm) DotAfrica is expected to increase the level of competition in the domain name industry - both globally, and within the African continent - whilst improving customer choice, creating further market differentiation and geographical diversity in the ownership and operation of registry services. For instance, it is already envisioned that a successful delegation of the DotAfrica gTLD based on DCA’s new gTLD application will result in the first African-based gTLD registry operator.
Accordingly, DCA Registry believes that diversity and competition in the provision of registry services will result from the introduction of the new DotAfrica gTLD. This would be of immense benefit to registrants, registrars and domain name resellers in Africa and globally. The DotAfrica gTLD creates a unique opportunity for Africa to develop its own locally hosted gTLD registry, serving Africans from within Africa. DCA Registry Services intends to host the back-end registry system in a data centre in Nairobi, Kenya to support the technical functions of the DotAfrica gTLD Registry. The location of a world-class gTLD registry service in an African country would greatly contribute to technology transfer as registry operations and technical management skills are acquired by local staffs that participate in the project of establishing and running the registry. It is anticipated that adequate training shall be provided for the DCA local technical and operations staff in Kenya thereby aiding the process of technology transfer to African ICT professionals.
Apart from offering approved registry services, it is our intention to optionally provide Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) support for Arabic and Latin at the second-level even though DotAfrica is not an IDN TLD. Therefore, DotAfrica will be considered as an ASCII TLD which offers IDNs (Arabic and Latin) optionally at the second level.
A) Improved Competition:
The potential users of DotAfrica domain names include commercial registrants, non-profits, governmental⁄inter-governmental organizations, and individual users. At the registry level, DCA DotAfrica Registry Services intends to adopt an open registration policy, thereby increasing the number of players competing to provide higher levels of service at affordable prices for Africans and other global users. DotAfrica gTLD will create improved competition in terms of choice, pricing, services and further opportunities for registrars and resellers.
The DotAfrica gTLD will increase the range of choices for African Internet users who can now use the DotAfrica domain alongside their own ccTLDs and other gTLD names and by supporting the development of new African TLD initiatives such as: cities.africa for African cities; communities.africa to serve the diverse and rich cultural heritage of African communities; and brands.africa for Africa’s emerging brands; and IDNs support at the second-level particularly for the Arabic-speaking countries of North Africa within the framework of ICANN’s new gTLD policy.
Competition in the Domain Marketplace will come through employing an ICANN standard registry-registrar model where domain name registrants will be able to buy DotAfrica domains from multiple ICANN-Accredited Registrars with the advantage of lower prices and more Internet products.
Based on our research, African ccTLD Domains cost an average of $80 per annum, and this comparatively high cost has led to the low uptake of domain names. Most users cannot afford to purchase ccTLD domain names, forcing them to host content on free services like Wordpress and BlogSpot. This prevents the development of meaningful content in Africa’s Internet space. Our proposed pricing model aims to offer domain registrations at a cost commensurate with the income levels of Africans. The proposed selling price of US$10.00 per standard domain name will be price-competitive with the price offered by global registrars for a typical gTLD domain name.
3) Equality⁄Non-Preferential Treatment in Delivery of Service:
In adherence to the Registry Operator Code of Conduct obligations enshrined in Specification 9 of the new gTLD Registry Agreement, DCA will aim at ensuring equality and non-preferential treatment of registrars in the delivery of registry services. Since DCA Registry Services will not be providing registrar services, we will work to develop the DotAfrica namespace amongst African Internet users without conflict of interest, preferential treatment of registrars or preferential pricing; Our registry Web front-end and support for the latest registry protocols will make it simpler and easier for all registrars to deal with DCA DotAfrica Registry Services on an equal basis (non-discriminatory access to registry services) in keeping with ICANN mandatory guidelines and Consensus policies, thereby reducing the cost of entry into the market place and enhancing competition amongst ICANN-accredited registrars.
4) Marketing Opportunities for Domain Name Resellers in Africa:
African domain name resellers of existing gTLDs are at a great disadvantage relative to their competitors in the more advanced Internet markets since African resellers have to expend higher marketing budgets, are faced with higher broadband costs, low user awareness on the importance of domain names and other products like SSL certificates have made the reseller business in Africa very difficult. DCA Registry Services along with its back-end registry services partner – CentralNIC - plans to utilize a sizable marketing budget to promote different sales and marketing incentives for African resellers including but not limited to marketing grants, technical support and training; approving resellers to sell premium domains, price incentives, etc.
DCA Registry Services proposes to differentiate DotAfrica from existing TLDs and other new gTLDs through communication and marketing programs aimed at positioning DotAfrica as a vibrant domain namespace in which organizations and individuals within the continent can express their Pan African outlook and identity on the Internet. DCA will provide a world-class registry service based on technical excellence and customer service as the means of creating a unified Internet identity for Africa through DotAfrica gTLD.
Our approach for differentiation would entail attaching a brand value to DotAfrica both in Africa and globally as the gTLD for the African Region, by drawing on the African desire for unity and integration to express a consolidated Pan-African online identity. While there are no competing or confusingly similar domains to compel us to strictly differentiate DotAfrica we are confident that differentiating DotAfrica will help define DotAfrica in the minds of users as a TLD that offers continent-wide branding possibilities as opposed to country specific ccTLDs.
Differentiation will be further achieved based on the Whois service and strong marketing approach to be adopted by DCA DotAfrica Registry services:
• Marketing: Marketing would be vital in promoting the adoption of DotAfrica domain names. Several marketing initiatives will be undertaken by DCA based on a proper market assessment and estimation of demand, and a well-structured marketing plan that targets various language-speaking groups in different regions of Africa such as (a) Northern Africa – an Arabic-speaking region; (b) Francophone Africa which comprises of French-language speaking countries in West⁄Central Africa; Anglophone Africa aimed at the English-speaking countries in West, East and Southern Africa; and (d) Lusophone Campaign aimed at the Portuguese⁄Spanish-speaking African countries. Each region will be further segmented to reflect the various target user groups.
Registrars and reseller will also be engaged as part of the DotAfrica gTLD marketing programme with various incentives schemes provided for registrars. We intend to allocate part of registrar’s expenditure up to a cap of gross registrations to support such planned incentives.
DotAfrica gTLD will offer a Pan-African identity appeal and outlook, a trusted and secure namespace, and brand⁄trademark protection that would make it possible to market to brands and commercial organizations in Africa and global companies doing business in Africa.
III: A snap survey and analysis conducted by DCA reveals that current user experience with the ccTLDs has been largely typified by poor levels of customer satisfaction, since users have to cope with an under-developed reseller system. This is mainly attributed to the fact that the ccTLDs registries do not have the latest technologies thereby making users to show preference for the services offered by other gTLD registries. Therefore, we intend to offer an improved user experience based on better quality customer services to be achieved as follows:
1. Physical – DCA DotAfrica Registry will implement an all new registry system that will be user-friendly and based on world-class technologies, using an up-to-date registry services management system platform. It is anticipated that this will provide an entirely new experience for users and registrants of the DotAfrica gTLD typified by high levels of customer satisfaction.
2. Social - Availability of DotAfrica domain names will affect the way people perceive and ascribe value to domains names in Africa. This is expected to trigger a positive effect that will change how domains are utilized creatively and innovatively, thereby creating a new form of Internet user experience as DotAfrica gTLD names are widely and rapidly adopted.
3. Infrastructural - Availability of a good registry system that will ease the current user problems and provide a registry services management platform that is built according to an acceptable global standard will encourage rapid uptake, multiple registrations and lower cost of domain names.
iv. As already explained, DotAfrica gTLD is not a community-based TLD, and as such will not be subjected to any community-based restrictions in its registration policies. Rather, as a standard geographic gTLD serving diverse needs and purposes, it will have open registration policies that would enable it attract a very large population of users and registrants from the global Internet community.
Therefore, in keeping with the spirit of global access, innovation, and competition promoted by the TLD and by the applicant, DCA DotAfrica Registry believes that the registration of domains should be open to all parties for legitimate purposes. Due to the specific and descriptive nature of the string, it is expected that registrations will be relevant to the nature of the TLD; however, Applicant does not wish to impose validation criteria as it believes it would only increase cost and restrict innovation – which goes against ICANN’s and Applicant’s goals for the TLD.
DCA DotAfrica Registry does, however, intend to enforce an Acceptable Use Policy to ensure that the zone remains stringently protected from illegal content or activity, and the UDRP, URS, and all other ICANN-required rights protection mechanisms will form an integral part of the domain registration policy compliance process. Applicant will also provide additional rights protection mechanisms beyond ICANNʹs requirements as set forth in written answers to questions 26, 28, and 29. To minimize abusive registrations, DCA DotAfrica Registry Services will adopt an Acceptable Use Policy that will allow it to cancel the registration of a domain name if the name is in violation of the Policy. Additionally, Applicant will undertake communications efforts to encourage reporting and execute rapid takedown of domains in violation of the Acceptable Use policy.
As further detailed in the responses to questions 28 and 29, DCA DotAfrica Registry will implement all rights protection mechanisms required by ICANN (including but not limited to the URS and the UDRP) and will additionally operate a Sunrise period for Trademark holders prior to General Availability (again, in accordance with all ICANN rules). Additional rights protection mechanisms, beyond ICANN requirements, are described in response to questions 26, 28, and 29.
Note that the Registration Policies also references the Acceptable Use Policy, ICANN Consensus Policies (in effect), and any other policies that may be adopted by DCA DotAfrica Registry or ICANN that would become applicable to DotAfrica gTLD.
A complete copy of the intended Eligibility and Acceptable Use Policy can be found in response to Question 29 (in Section 29.9).
V: There will be various measures implemented in the TLD for protecting the privacy or confidential information of registrants and users. In various jurisdictions, Data Protection and Privacy laws exist to keep citizen and consumer private information confidential and not publicly accessible, and protected from abuse or being stolen or illegally distributed for marketing purposes. Moreover, unauthorized disclosure of citizen’s private information exposes such victims to various social, economic and legal vulnerabilities.
According to ICANN, the use of personal data must be limited to the purpose for which it is collected; and as per the new gTLD Registry Agreement, we shall do our utmost to ensure that this requirement is satisfied, and that the personal data of users and registrants will be protected, not publicized, and used only for the purpose for which it has been collected.
For registrations under DotAfrica, only non-sensitive information of registrants and users will be made public. Reasonable steps will be taken to protect any personal data collected as specified under Article 2.17 of the new gTLD Registry Agreement.
Furthermore, DCA DotAfrica Registry shall:
1. Notify Registrar of the purposes for which registrant Personal Data submitted by Registrar is collected, the intended recipients of such Personal Data, and the mechanism for access to and correction of such Personal Data;
2. Take reasonable steps to protect them from loss, misuse, unauthorized disclosure, alteration or destruction; shall not use or authorize the use of Personal Data in a way that is incompatible with the notice provided to registrars;
3. May from time to time use the demographic data collected for statistical analysis, provided that this analysis will not disclose individual Personal Data and provided that such use is compatible with the notice provided to registrars;
4. Not use the information stored regarding the domain name holders in the DotAfrica Registry system for any spamming or marketing purposes.
VI: DCA’s promotional campaign for sensitization and awareness creation of ICANN’s new gTLD programme has helped to mainstream DotAfrica as the principal Internet discourse within Africa in recent years. This has been aided by regular email campaigns to circulate analyses and commentaries on topical Internet DNS issues, press releases, dissemination of quarterly newsletters, published blog articles; coupled with video productions, television interviews, sponsored exhibitions and advertisement on popular Internet governance platforms and conferences such as ICANN and IGF. All these have been employed to effectively communicate the message of the DotAfrica gTLD.
DCA has used these communication tools to explain the potential benefits of DotAfrica gTLD, and inform people on the positive impact this will have on the innovative use of domain names when the DotAfrica domains become generally available. When the gTLD is delegated, these forms of outreach will be further strengthened with a strong sales and marketing effort, and initiatives such as Yes2DotAfrica campaign (http:⁄⁄www.dotconnectafrica.org⁄yes-campaign⁄join-campaign⁄), generation.africa (http:⁄⁄www.prlog.org⁄11681274-generationafrica-on-their-high-at-the-6th-igf-held-in-nairobi-kenya.html), and miss.africa (http:⁄⁄www.dotconnectafrica.org⁄yes-campaign⁄miss-africa⁄). These initiatives shall be further powered by an active social media presence on micro-blogging sites such as Twitter and ‘friendship⁄conviviality’ sites such as Facebook which attract a younger Internet user demographic.
As a result of concerted promotional and campaign activities undertaken by DCA during the past couple of years, DotAfrica received a lot of press coverage in different local, regional and global news media. Such press coverage has been organized into a media briefing kit, which may be found at: http:⁄⁄www.dotconnectafrica.org⁄press-room⁄press-kit⁄ and http:⁄⁄www.dotconnectafrica.org⁄press-room⁄global-media-coverage⁄
As part of its outreach and communications efforts, DCA has made over 56 press releases and Executive Briefings, and received over 79 global press coverage in print and electronic media, in addition to press coverage in over 21 foreign language news media; reaching a potential audience of nearly 100 million people globally. Such archived press releases and other media campaign iinfo are available at:
http:⁄⁄www.dotconnectafrica.org⁄yes-campaign⁄accomplishments⁄ and http:⁄⁄archive.constantcontact.com⁄fs053⁄1102516344150⁄archive⁄1103885604203.html
DCA already employed a combination of useful communication tools and strategies to achieve significant successes in the course of promoting DotAfrica during the last few years (See http:⁄⁄www.dotconnectafrica.org⁄major-milestones⁄).
It is envisaged that when the DotAfrica gTLD is delegated such efforts shall be re-doubled to enable DCA achieve its projected benefits.
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