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Mohamed El Bashir

By Mohamed El Bashir, Steercom Member, UniForum / ZACR bid for .africa

When it comes to finding quality information that is both timely and relevant, the internet is the undisputed champion. Whether you want to fix a broken window or understand how mankind made it to the moon, the first port of call is a search engine and no longer your local library.

Unfortunately, ease of access to a wealth of information also means clutter and the ability to easily access a tremendous amount of useless information. With so much data being added to the web, even as I write this, it becomes crucial for the information-seeker to know where to access appropriate information.

The imminent entrance onto the information superhighway of the new .africa generic top level domain (gTLD), as pioneered by UniForum ZACR, will go a long way towards streamlining the search for information relevant to Africa. Hopefully, sometime during the first quarter of next year ICANN will announce the successful bidder for .africa and web surfers will henceforth be able to access Africa-related information speedily and accurately.

This means if your business is targeting Africa, or indeed if you are an African business, you really need to start thinking about your .africa presence on the web.

How could .africa domains contribute to Africa’s online content expansion?

The continent of Africa boasts a sizeable propportion of the world's population and yet connectively and other challenges have meant that the number of African-registered domains remains relatively miniscule. It is a basic fact of life that numbers count and that it order to influence events, one needs the required muscle in the form of impressive numbers.

The launch of .africa represents a golden opportunity for Africa to exponentially increase its presence on the web, and by extention, its influence in the world. In one fell swoop, we could radically improve Africa's fortunes in both the real and the tangible world.

While millions of Internet users are looking for oversubscribed .com or .net domains, a .africa domain will be fairly easy to register and obtain. A .africa domain also enables a deeper interaction between your target audience and Africa by enabling the establishment of dedicated websites for your African customers.

Besides being easy to register, Africa's own domain will make the web more favourable to local Internet users by making it easy for Africa’s Internet users to access relevant content related to their continent. It is not hard to imagine a music.africa or a mobile.africa web portal in the future.

With more ways of creating unique domain names being introduced daily, it is easy for one to ask why a .africa domain name will be better compared to the current .com domains.

The first reason is that it will be easier to get the .africa domain name you want with millions of available domain names options to choose from. Greater and more relevant choice means more opportunities for African businesses or businesses targeting Africa.

It will also be much easier to get noticed in search engines with a .africa domain. Your site will get even more recognition when someone looks up information related to Africa in specific search engines or directories. Moreover, this can be quite useful for those who wish to benefit from online advertisement programms like google’s AdSense program.

Above all, a .africa domain ensures that security issues will no longer be something you need to constantly worry about. With all these reasons driving more people towards having their own .africa domain names in the near future, it is easy to see why the Internet is opening more doors. Let us work together to ensure we tap this unique opportunity the African continent.

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