Dot Africa: Top-Level Domain Names Going Fast

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Written by Dana Sanchez

The dot Africa domain is one of an avalanche that helped push the number of new generic top-level domains delegated into the Internet’s root zone over 100, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN.

Generic top-level domain (gTLD) delegation is one of the final steps before the registries that control domains can start accepting registrations for names that will use the domains, according to ITNewsAfrica.

“There are now almost five times more generic top-level domains than there were only a few months ago and that translates to greater consumer choice,” said Akram Atallah, President of ICANN’s Global Domains Division. “We are as eager as everyone else to see what type of innovation these new domains will usher into the online world.”

.Africa continues to generate interest from businesses across the continent, ITNewsAfrica reports.

The .Africa domain launch is planned for March 1, 2014, according to AfricaInOneSpace.

Applicants can ask for their desired .africa domain name to be placed on a reserve name list. Once the name is delegated they will have first rights to it.

Ope Odusan, managing director at Africa.com Domains, said in September that in the first few weeks after the company started offering domains, trademark and brand owners requested domains including twitter.africa.com, starbucks.africa.com, ibm.africa.com, evian.africa.com, standardbank.africa.com, lego.africa.com, marksandspencer.africa.com, emirates.africa.com, philips.africa.com, miele.africa.com, ITNewsAfrica reports.

The massive expansion of the domain name system represents one of the greatest changes to the Internet since its inception.

Passing the 100-mark is an “historic milestone for ICANN’s new gTLD program and the Internet as a whole,” said Christine Willett, vice president of gTLD Operations.

In addition to the new delegations, 200 registry agreements have been signed by new applicants.

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 dotAfrica steering committee chairman at the time, Mohammed El Bashir. “Our bid for dotAfrica could not have made it this far without (their) support.”

The goal in creating dotAfrica is help to forge a unique online identity which will associate products, services and information with the continent and people of Africa, according to AfricaInOneSpace.

The applicant for the dotAfrica domain, ZA Central Registry, is a nonprofit based in Johannesburg. The African Union Commission and individual African governments, agencies and organisations endorsed it.

Any domain name registry can apply to run dotAfrica. However, only UniForum SA, trading as the ZA Central Registry was selected by the African Union as the continent’s official bidding registry operator after the AU put out a request for proposals from African operators, according to AfricaInOneSpace.

Transparency, reliability, technical ability, financial stability and continental representation were considered when the AU endorsed the non-profit, which has more than 17 years’ experience administering .co.za, according to AfricaInOneSpace.

The dotAfrica domain was formally submitted to ICANN in April 2012.