African domain gets a nod
The African Union (AU) has endorsed the DotAfrica domain project, a specific Internet namespace for Africa, aimed at building the Africa brand and encouraging increased participation on the Internet.
According to Sophia Bekele, executive director of DotConnectAfrica, which is responsible for the project, this is expected to boost regional integration and benefit the business community.
She says: “The introduction of DotAfrica will create an attractive regional home for the pan-African Internet community. This will be the first sponsored registry to be operating from Africa and therefore serving the specific needs of its communities.”
The AU, an intergovernmental organisation consisting of 53 African states, says this is likely to be applied for operation during the next round of new generic top-level domains (GTLDs), which the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will introduce soon.
ICANN is an internationally organised, non-profit corporation that has responsibility for Internet protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, GTLD and country code top-level domains, top-level domain name system management, and root server system management functions.
The AU will implement the DotAfrica project on behalf of the member states in cooperation and partnership with relevant stakeholders and institutions, including the preparation and the submission of the DotAfrica application to ICANN.
AU says DotAfrica is to contribute to the development of Internet on the African continent and proposes to re-invest proceeds into social and technological advancement initiatives within the community.
“A revenue allocation structure will be adopted by the DotAfrica registry to guarantee that a portion of revenues will be directly re-invested into the community through a grant programme,” it states.
“This is a critical national resource while ensuring that the technical and administrative operations are at international standards to foster trust and use of African domain names in order to bring financial, economic and social-cultural benefits to Africa,” the organisation explains in a statement.
The organisation says the domain will add value to the namespace as a recognisable phrase which focuses on the African identity. “It is likely to capture the essence of the community served.”
According to the AU, DotAfrica will serve a community which spans over a large portion of regions, thereby providing registrants with accrued possibilities for establishing their Internet presence.
DotAfrica will take advantage of a decision by the ICANN board to expand the generic top-level domain space from four - '.com', '.org', '.net' and '.biz' - to 21.
“It will echo ongoing operation and successes of other sister community TLDs such as DotEu (DotEuropa) and DotAsia, which have created a new Internet identity for their users and businesses who seek more regional presence without being confined within the limits of one country,” Bekele points out.
According to the AU, Africa has a population of one billion and it hosts 86 million Internet users, with a penetration rate of 8.7%, compared to the world average of 26.9%.