ZA Central Registry (ZACR) has sent a notice to domain registrars in South Africa announcing that it has been given notice of termination of its contract.
ZACR’s Registry Operator Agreement with the .za Domain Name Authority (ZADNA) will come to an end on 1 April 2022, the non-profit stated.
This move from ZADNA has created uncertainty regarding South Africa’s .ZA top-level domain and the second-level domains (SLDs) that fall under it, such as co.za and org.za.
It has also committed ZADNA to an aggressive timeline of just over eight months to establish a licensing framework to replace the agreement it had with the ZACR.
Through its previous incarnation as Uniforum SA, the ZACR has been managing South Africa’s co.za domain namespace since 1995.
In 2012 it assumed the role of the central registry and, through the Registry Operator Agreement (ROA), became responsible for co.za, net.za, org.za, and web.za.
“At all material times, the ROA was meant to be a placeholder,” ZACR CEO Lucky Masilela wrote in the notice that was sent to registrars, which MyBroadband has seen.
Masilela explained that the ROA was meant to be replaced by a licensing regime as envisaged in Chapter X of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECT Act).
Chapter X of the ECT Act creates the legislative framework for the existence of ZADNA, including its functions, such as licensing registries and registrars, and setting regulations in consultation with the Minister of Communications.
“For the past nine years, the ROA has been an excellent placeholder responsible for creating the RRR — Regulator / Registry / Registrar — domain name management model, which has contributed to the exponential growth, robustness, resilience, and stability of the .ZA SLDs to date,” said Masilela.
Masilela said that ZADNA’s notice of termination mentions establishing a licensing regime that would govern the .ZA namespace in future.
“At this stage, the full extent of the licensing framework, such as the project timelines associated with the promulgation and execution of the licensing regime, the form and substance of any proposed regulations, and the impact that such regime would have on both the ZACR and its channel partners are still unknown factors,” stated Masilela.
Masilela said the management of ZACR had sent a letter to ZADNA requesting more information and clarity on its plans to address this uncertainty.
“For now, we assure you of our continued commitment to provide sound and reliable registry services and urge you to continue with your business as usual,” he said.
The relationship between ZADNA and the ZACR has been strained, according to industry sources who spoke to MyBroadband on condition of anonymity.
Beyond a recent dispute between the organisations over pricing, which took three years to resolve, MyBroadband was told that ZADNA was looking for alternative registry services providers several years ago.
MyBroadband contacted ZADNA and the ZACR for comment, and neither organisation could immediately provide feedback.