Redelegation of the .RW domain representing Rwanda to the Rwanda Information Communication and Technology Association

ICANN has received a request to redelegate the .RW domain, a country-code top-level domain representing Rwanda, to the Rwanda Information Communication and Technology Association (RICTA). ICANN Staff have assessed the request, and provide this report for the ICANN Board of Directors to consider.

Factual Information

Country

The "RW" ISO 3166-1 code is designated for use to represent Rwanda.

Chronology of events

The currently designated manager for the .RW domain is “NIC Congo - Interpoint SARL”, as described in the IANA Root Zone Database.

In August 2002, the Rwanda Information Technology Authority (RITA), the country’s regulator in the technology sector at the time, sent a letter to ICANN seeking that the .RW ccTLD be revoked from the current operator and redelegated to RITA as they believed that the current operator “did not adequately serve the interests of any individual or organisation not connected with our country.” This request did not result in a formal redelegation request, and no further action was taken.

In May 2005, Rwanda Information Communication and Technology Association (RICTA) was created as a non-profit organization (A.S.B.L) under Rwandan law. RICTA’s objectives, among others, included “to act as trustee” and administer the .RW top-level domain, and to develop and establish a policy framework for the development and administration of the .RW top-level domain.

In 2006, RICTA initiated negotiations about a possibility of the redelegation with the current operator, NIC Congo - Interpoint SARL, however, as applicant stated, there was “local misunderstanding on the way forward which has substantially delayed the process.”

On 12 July 2006, RICTA, together with RITA, initiated a request for redelegation of .RW ccTLD. The current operator at the time “strongly opposed the redelegation” as they believed that the applying entity did not have appropriate support from either the local government or community. The current operator was also concerned about multiple requests for redelegation they were receiving in the span of several years from various different organizations in Rwanda. In the next months, applicants and the current operator initiated negotiations. As discussions and finalisation of the proposed action plan as well as signing an agreement were not progressing and the request was not ready to proceed, the request was closed, without prejudice.

On 1 April 2011, RICTA organized a meeting with ISP/Telecom operators in the country. As a result of the meeting, the Internet Service Advisory Committee was formed to play an advisory role with a focus on the “technical matters of DNS.”

On 3 August 2011, Rwanda Information Communication and Technology Association (RICTA) Ltd. was re-registered as a company limited by guarantee with business activities of “wireless telecommunications activities, computer consultancy and computer facilities management activities” among others. Applicant explained, that this re-registration was due to “internal issues” that came up in the first couple of years of RICTA’s existence which were subsequently resolved and resulted in the need for re-registration.

On 6 October 2011, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) - local regulator for the public utilities, including operations of telecommunications networks and services, - granted a mandate to RICTA Ltd. “to manage Rwanda’s ccTLD, Second Level Domains (registry) and administer all matters relating to the .rw domain...”

On 19 October 2011, RURA and RICTA signed a “Memorandum of Understanding for .rw TLD (Rwanda) redelegation & domain name management” which defined roles and responsibilities of the two parties. The MOU specifically pointed out that RICTA was established with a “clear constitution for it to act as the trustee and administrator for the .rw ccTLD assigned to Rwanda and other associated second level domains.”

On 24 November 2011, a petition for the redelegation of .RW ccTLD to Rwanda Information Communication and Technology Association (RICTA) was signed by various representatives from the local Internet community in Rwanda.

On 10 January 2012, the Rwanda Information Communication and Technology Association (RICTA) commenced a request to ICANN for redelegation of the “.RW” top-level domain. Since then several requests were lodged as applicants provided an updated information and one request was closed by the system as the currently listed operator rejected the requested changes as they were submitted initially. Processing of the changes continued in the request that was lodged on 18 January 2012.

Proposed Sponsoring Organisation and Contacts

The proposed sponsoring organisation is the Rwanda Information Communication and Technology Association (RICTA), a company limited by guarantee with business activities of “wireless telecommunications activities, computer consultancy and computer facilities management activities” among others.

The proposed administrative contact is Geofrey Kayonga, CEO, RICTA. The administrative contact is understood to be based in Rwanda.

The proposed technical contact is Ghislain Nkeramugaba, ccTLD Coordinator, RICTA.

Evaluation of the Request

String Eligibility

The top-level domain is eligible for continued delegation under ICANN policy, as it is the assigned ISO 3166-1 two-letter code representing Rwanda.

Public Interest

Explicit government support for the application was provided in a letter from the Office of the President, Ministry in Charge of Information and Communications Technology in which Minister, Dr. Ignace Gatare, stated the “Ministry of ICT acknowledges RICTA as the appropriate entity to administer .RW Rwanda ccTLD.”

Government support was also demonstrated through a Memorandum of Understanding agreed by Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) and RICTA. The MOU defined roles and responsibilities of the two parties, specifically pointing to RICTA as established with a “clear constitution for it to act as the trustee and administrator for the .rw ccTLD assigned to Rwanda and other associated second level domains.”

Additional support for the application was provided in letters from the Private Sector Federation of Rwanda, the Internet Society Rwanda Chapter, Rwandatel Ltd., ISPA Ltd., Augere Rwanda Ltd., Broadband Systems Corporation Ltd., Airtel Rwanda Ltd., and MTN Rwandacell Ltd. A petition in favour of the redelegation was also submitted to demonstrate the local Internet community support in the country.

The application is consistent with known applicable local laws in Rwanda. The proposed sponsoring organisation undertakes to operate the domain in a fair and equitable manner.

Based in country

The proposed sponsoring organisation is constituted in Rwanda. The proposed administrative contact is understood to be resident in Rwanda. The registry is to be operated in the country.

Stability

The request is deemed uncontested, with the currently listed sponsoring organisation “not opposing” to the transfer.

The appropriate transfer plan has been provided. Based on the information submitted, ICANN staff evaluated stability aspects relating to registry transfer and has not identified any stability issues given all parties act in accordance with the agreed upon transfer plan.

Competency

The application has provided satisfactory details on the technical and operational infrastructure and expertise that will be used to operate the .RW domain. Proposed policies for management of the domain have also been tendered.

Evaluation Procedure

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is tasked with managing the Domain Name System root zone as part of a set of functions governed by a contract with the U.S. Government. This includes managing the delegations of top-level domains.

A subset of top-level domains are designated for the local Internet communities in countries to operate in a way that best suits their local needs. These are known as country-code top-level domains, and are assigned by ICANN to responsible trustees (known as “Sponsoring Organisations”) who meet a number of public-interest criteria for eligibility. These criteria largely relate to the level of support the trustee has from their local Internet community, their capacity to ensure stable operation of the domain, and their applicability under any relevant local laws.

Through an ICANN department known as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), requests are received for delegating new country-code top-level domains, and redelegating or revoking existing country-code top-level domains. An investigation is performed on the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and, when appropriate, the requests are implemented. Decisions on whether to implement requests are made by the ICANN Board of Directors, taking into account ICANN’s core mission of ensuring the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems.

Purpose of evaluations

The evaluation of eligibility for country-code top-level domains, and of evaluating responsible trustees charged with operating them, is guided by a number of principles. The objective of the assessment is that the action enhances the secure and stable operation of the Internet’s unique identifier systems. The evolution of the principles has been documented in “Domain Name System Structure and Delegation” (RFC 1591), “Internet Domain Name System Structure and Delegation” (ICP-1), and other informational memoranda.

In considering requests to delegate or redelegate country-code top-level domains, input is sought regarding the proposed new Sponsoring Organisation, as well as from persons and organisations that may be significantly affected by the change, particularly those within the nation or territory to which the ccTLD is designated.

The assessment is focussed on the capacity for the proposed sponsoring organisation to meet the following criteria:

Method of evaluation

To assess these criteria, information is requested from the applicant regarding the proposed sponsoring organisation and method of operation. In summary, a request template is sought specifying the exact details of the delegation being sought in the root zone. In addition, various documentation is sought describing: the views of the local internet community on the application; the competencies and skills of the trustee to operate the domain; the legal authenticity, status and character of the proposed trustee; and the nature of government support fort he proposal. The view of any current trustee is obtained, and in the event of a redelegation, the transfer plan from the previous sponsoring organisation to the new sponsoring organisation is also assessed with a view to ensuring ongoing stable operation of the domain.

After receiving this documentation and input, it is analysed in relation to existing root zone management procedures, seeking input from parties both related to as well as independent of the proposed sponsoring organisation should the information provided in the original application be deficient. The applicant is given the opportunity to cure any deficiencies before a final assessment is made.

Once all the documentation has been received, various technical checks are performed on the proposed sponsoring organisation’s DNS infrastructure to ensure name servers are properly configured and are able to respond to queries for the top-level domain being requested. Should any anomalies be detected, ICANN staff will work with the applicant to address the issues.

Assuming all issues are resolved, an assessment is compiled providing all relevant details regarding the proposed sponsoring organisation and its suitability to operate the top-level domain being requested. This assessment is submitted to ICANN’s Board of Directors for its determination on whether to proceed with the request.