Africa’s Digital Identity Breaks New Ground With .africa Web Address Launch
Following failure to launch in 2014, Africa now has the unique web address .africa — that’s almost five years after the African Union submitted the domain name to the governing body that establishes generic top-level domains.
The .africa domain is expected to be available July 1, AFP reported, but the level of demand is uncertain.
Africans have been applying for years to register their preferred .africa domain names on a reserve list, on the understanding they would have first rights to it, according to AfricaInOneSpace. An earlier launch, planned for March 1, 2014, came and went.
Outgoing African Union Commission Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma again invited Africans this week to apply for a .africa domain name in the coming months. Doing so will allow the continent’s people and businesses to better reach the world, she said.
“With .africa, I would say Africa has finally got its digital identity,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
The African Union put out a request for proposals from African registry operators, according to AfricaInOneSpace. ZA Central Registry, a Johannesburg-based nonprofit, was selected by the A.U. as the continent’s official bidding registry operator. The A.U. Commission and individual African governments, agencies and organisations endorsed it.
The .africa domain was formally submitted in April 2012 to ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.
In July 2013, the internet governing body ruled that the ZA Central Registry (ZACR) bid for dotAfrica had passed initial evaluation.
“The valued support of the African Union Commission has been a key success factor,” said .africa steering committee chairman at the time, Mohammed El Bashir, according to ITNews Africa. “Our bid for .africa could not have made it this far without (their) support.”
As Africa’s largest economy, South Africa dominates African online presence with 1.1 million of the 2 million website registrations on the continent, according to Lucky Masilela, CEO of ZA Central Registry, AFP reported.
Fees as high as $250 in some African countries have deterred many people from registering a domain name, Masilela said. However .africa addresses will cost $18 for anyone on the continent.
The African Union is hoping proceeds from the domain registrations will help cover some of its administrative costs and fund the A.U. commission, AFP reported.
Ope Odusan, managing director at Africa.com Domains, said in September 2013 that in the first few weeks after the company started offering domains, trademark and brand owners requested domains including the following, ITNewsAfrica reported:
twitter.africa, starbucks.africa, ibm.africa, evian.africa, standardbank.africa, lego.africa, marksandspencer.africa, emirates.africa, philips.africa, and miele.africa.com.
Read more about the .africa evolution at AFKInsider.com.