African Union launches dotAfrica, general public can apply for domain from April


The African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was yesterday the venue for the official launch of the dotAfrica (.africa) internet which is expected to bring more choice to the African community online.

The launch was presided over by Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the outgoing African Union (AU) Commission chairperson. Also present was Elham Mahmoud Ahmed Ibrahim, the AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy from Egypt.

Highlights for media will include: informatioon on the importance of dotAfrica as an identity and a vehicle for  socio cultural activities of Africa in the  digital era that will allow the continent to contribute to the global digital economy and dotAfrica as an alternative source of funding for ICT related projects and initiatives,” noted a statement posted on the AU website announcing and inviting the media to attend and cover the event.

On why the domain is crucial, the AUC stated that: “The dotAfrica generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) will bring the continent together as an internet community under one umbrella, allowing e-commerce, technology and infrastructure to flourish. A truly African initiative established by Africans for Africa and the World.”

DotAfrica (.Africa) is the proposed new generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) for the African continent. It is an opportunity to forge a unique online identity which will associate products, services and/or information with the continent and people of Africa.

The .africa address had been contested by two bidders, that DotConnect Africa Trust (DCA) of Mauritius and ZACR of South Africa and has been a subject of long-running legal battle (which is yet to be concluded as the Jury Trial begins in August in US).

However, ICANN – the body in charge of the global internet – in mid February 15 decided to delegate (award or license) the dotAfrica domain to South ZACR less than two weeks after the California Superior Court ruled against DCA’s motion seeking to stop the delegation.

The domain was therefore among hundreds which ICANN announced had been delegated to successful bidders on February 15 this year.

“On 15 February 2017 at exactly 14:58:59 the .Africa domain name extension (www.nic.africa) was delegated by ICANN and added to the root servers,” the AU statement added.

The delegated domains are among those whose application process was launched y ICANN in 2012.

General availability for domain registration from ZACR is expected to begin on July 4, 2017  although an earlier April 4 date is tentatively set for some specific applicant groups.

“In technical terms, .Africa is resolving in the root zone. In layperson’s terms, .Africa will soon be open for business…This means that the Launch Phases of ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Landrush’ and finally, General Availability of the .Africa domain is now possible, stated ZACR CEO, Lucky Masilela when the domain was delegated.

“Tentative date for the Sunrise and Landrush Phases is 4 April 2017. The Sunrise Phase will see intellectual property rights holders and, the Landrush Phase will see premium name applicants applying for .Africa domains from this date. General Availability should commence on 4 July 2017 and this is when the general public can apply for their .Africa domain names,” said Masilela in an article posted on the ZACR website.