ICANN Logo IANA Report on Redelegation of the .mw Top-Level Domain

IANA Report

Subject: Redelegation of .mw Top-Level Domain
Date: 12 August 2002

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (the IANA), as part of the administrative functions associated with management of the domain-name system root, is responsible for receiving requests for delegation and redelegation of top-level domains, investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and reporting on the requests. Earlier this year, the IANA received a request for changing the sponsoring organization, administrative contact, and technical contact for the .mw (Malawi) country-code top-level domain (ccTLD). This report gives the findings and conclusions of the IANA on its investigation of that request.

Factual and Procedural Background

The .mw ccTLD was first delegated in January 1997 to Mr. Chris Cope Morgan as administrative contact and Robin Mthwanji as technical contact. Mr. Cope Morgan was associated with the Computer Solutions LTD, Blantyre, Malawi. At the time of the initial delegation in 1996, Robin Mthwanji was associated with InterACCESS Communications, located in Blantyre, Malawi.

In 1998, InterACCESS encountered connectivity difficulties within Malawi, so that the technical contact was changed to Thomas F. Harris of Dover, New Hampshire, USA. Mr. Harris was and is associated with Tarsus Software.

Soon afterward, Mr. Cope Morgan left Malawi. In June 2000, the IANA received a request from the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) for information regarding the delegation and the procedures for its redelegation to someone residing within Malawi. MACRA was advised of the provisions of ICP-1 section (e) regarding transfers of delegations, and requested to contact Mr. Cope Morgan and Mr. Harris to discuss directly with them a possible transfer of the .mw ccTLD delegation back into Malawi.

In September 2001, the IANA received a copy of a 12 September 2001 letter from MACRA to Mr. Cope Morgan, then located in South Africa, stating that the Malawi Sustainable Development Network Programme (Malawi SDNP) had MACRA’s mandate to operate the .mw ccTLD. In August 2001, Mr. Cope Morgan had advised Dr. Paulos Nyirenda of the Malawi SDNP that Mr. Cope Morgan was prepared to agree to transfer of the delegation upon receiving documentation of MACRA’s mandate.

On 10 February 2002, Mr. Cope Morgan wrote to ICANN’s ccTLD Liaison endorsing Dr. Nyirenda as the appropriate administrator of the .mw ccTLD, in view of his greater ability to place the .mw ccTLD on a sound and transparent operational footing. Mr. Cope Morgan stated: “I feel now that Dr Paulos Nyirenda is currently the appropriate administrator and should take it over once all technical issues are resolved.”

On 1 March 2002, Dr. Nyirenda submitted a request, on behalf of the Malawi SDNP, for the .mw ccTLD to be delegated to it. The request was accompanied by documentation concerning:

  • the Malawi Internet community and Malawi SDNP’s consultations with it;
  • the circumstances affecting the Internet community in Malawi;
  • MACRA’s support of Malawi SDNP;
  • technical abilities of Malawi SDNP;
  • the organizational structure of Malawi SDNP; and
  • the vision and contemplated policies under which Malawi SDNP would operate the .mw ccTLD.

By an accompanying template, Dr. Nyirenda proposed changing the sponsoring organization to Malawi SDNP, the administrative contact to Dr. Nyirenda, and the technical contact to the Malawi SDNP Coordinator, Mr. David Chima. Thus, the effect of the requests was to shift away from out-of-country operation of the .mw ccTLD and to an in-country administrative and technical contact and sponsoring organization.

The existing administrative and technical contacts have agreed to these changes. Consultations were conducted within Malawi regarding this change, which indicated significant support for Malawi SDNP’s operation of the .mw ccTLD.

In view of the proposed shift in the delegated authority over the .mw domain, discussions ensued regarding establishing more formal accountability regarding the delegation. As noted above, MACRA endorsed Malawi SDNP as the appropriate party to become the delegate of the .mw ccTLD. On 28 June 2002, Malawi SDNP and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers entered into a memorandum of understanding under which Malawi SDNP would assume the responsibilities as delegee. MACRA was formally advised of the parties’ intent to enter, and provided a copy of, this memorandum of understanding on 12 June 2002. Although the memorandum of understanding does not provide for direct involvement of MACRA or another governmental agency in ensuring Malawi SDNP’s accountability, it is subject to being replaced in the future by a more durably binding agreement taking into account evolving circumstances, including possible enhanced, cooperative governmental involvement in ensuring that the ccTLD operates within an appropriate framework of accountability.


This report is being provided under the contract for performance of the IANA function between the United States Government and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Under that contract, ICANN performs the IANA function, which includes receiving delegation and redelegation requests concerning ccTLDs, investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and reporting on the requests.

In acting on redelegation requests, the IANA currently follows the practices summarized in "Internet Domain Name System Structure and Delegation" (ICP-1). ICP-1 represents an update of the portions of RFC 1591 (which was issued in March 1994) dealing with ccTLDs, and reflects subsequent documents and evolution of the policies followed by the IANA through May 1999.

In considering delegation or redelegation of a ccTLD, the IANA seeks input from persons significantly affected by the transfer, particularly those within the nation or territory which the ccTLD has been established to benefit. As noted in ICP-1, the parties affected include especially the relevant government or public authority: "The desires of the government of a country with regard to delegation of a ccTLD are taken very seriously. The IANA will make them a major consideration in any TLD delegation/transfer discussions."

Based on the materials submitted and the IANA’s evaluation of the circumstances, Malawi SDNP appears well-positioned, and firmly committed, to operate the .mw ccTLD in a manner that serves the Malawi Internet community. Consultations by Malawi SDNP itself show support within the Malawi Internet community for redelegating the .mw ccTLD to Malawi SDNP. Malawi SDNP’s commitment to serving the community is further demonstrated by its willingness to enter into the memorandum of understanding providing formal accountability for its stewardship of the .mw ccTLD. It is also reinforced by the support of the Malawi government.

Malawi SDNP, which has accepted accountability for the ccTLD under its memorandum of understanding, has designated Mr. Chima as technical contact. The IANA's review indicates that Malawi SDNP, and Mr. David Chima, possess the technical competence to carry out assignment of domain names and operation of nameservers.
The shifting of ccTLD delegations from individuals that have been designated informally as administrative and technical contacts to organizations operating under written agreements or memoranda of understanding is a positive step toward the stable and professional operation of ccTLDs in the public interest. As the Internet becomes increasingly important to global society, it is important that a framework of accountability be established for the operation of all top-level domains, both to promote the global interoperability of the domain-name system and to ensure that the interests of local Internet communities are well-served.

In February 2000, the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) issued a document entitled "Principles for the Delegation and Administration of Country Code Top Level Domains," commonly known as the "GAC Principles." These principles serve as "best practices" to guide governments in assuming proper roles with respect to the Internet's naming system, which the GAC has observed is a public resource to be administered in the public interest. In general, they recognize that each government has the ultimate responsibility within its territory for its national public-policy objectives, but also that ICANN has the responsibility for ensuring that the Internet domain-name system continues to provide an effective and interoperable global naming system.

The GAC Principles guide governments on how to responsibly structure their relations with ccTLD managers (see clauses 5.5 and 9). The GAC Principles recommend that governments and ICANN pursue their respective roles by creating a framework for accountability memorialized in communications with each other and with the ccTLD manager (see clause 2). In view of local conditions or for other reasons, however, national governments sometimes choose not to be directly involved initially in the three-way communications, but instead to allow bilateral arrangements such as that here to be entered. In such cases, the bilateral agreements promote the DNS's stable and reliable operation by allowing for accountable operation by the manager, pending appropriate expression by the relevant government or public authority for participation in a triangular arrangement (see GAC Melbourne Communiqué part B (10 March 2001)).


The IANA concludes that the .mw ccTLD should be redelegated, as requested, from the current delegees to Malawi SDNP. Dr. Paulos B. Nyirenda should become administrative contact and Mr. David Chima should become technical contact, as designated by Malawi SDNP under its memorandum of understanding with ICANN.

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