AfTLD takes on .africa

INTERNET

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Image: By AfTLD
AfTLD takes on .africa

The Africa Top Level Domains (AfTLD) organisation intends to seek a mandate from the African Union (AU) Commission and to apply to ICANN for a mandate to manage the .africa registry.

African Top Level Domains Limited was incorporated as a Mauritius non-profit corporation in 2002. AFTLD acts as a focal point for Africa's Country Code Top Level Domains Managers and Sponsoring Organisations.

AfTLD said it had listened attentively to calls in Africa asking AfTLD to play a leading role in developing, managing and running the .africa top level domain for the region.

AfTLD has responded by first undertaking a detailed assessment of the new gTLD landscape and making a commitment to work with the A Commission, ICANN and others to secure a mandate to run .africa.

With that done, and AfTLD fully convinced of the feasibility of the .africa project, AfTLD has commenced work top seek a mandate to run .africa.

“ We are not just interested in .africa only, but we want to also take on the French version, .afrique.

“ It’ s only natural for us to do this, because at least 50% of Africa speaks French,” said Vika Mpisane, AfTLD’ s Chairman and General Manager of .ZA (South Africa). “ We also intend to have an internationalised version of .africa as well because we have significant Arabic Africa population, but we will start definitely with .africa first” .

AfTLD said it had grown in stature and influence since the mid-2000s, and is now ready to climb another ladder with the .africa project. It has significantly mobilised African ccTLDs and helped improve their registry management capacity. Amongst its achievements are the registry operations and contingency planning training courses AfTLD has offered to the African ccTLDs in association with its sponsors, which include ICANN, NSRC and ISOC.

AfTLD appreciates that .africa must be on the samelevel of operational excellence as any other leading TLD. Because of this, AfTLD has been working with various registry service providers and will soon be announcing a partnership with a leading registry services provider, and AFTLD is confident that it will choose the best model to ensure that .africa succeeds in spite of the new gTLD boom.

“ The interest shown by leading registry providers in AfTLD’ s .africa bid has been humbling. We have been inundated by expressions of keen interest from well known leading players in the market,” notes Eric Akumiah, AfTLD’ s Manager.

AfTLD sees it as being critically important that .africa must benefit the development of the African Internet community.

“ As a regional TLD, .africa must primarily serve the African market and should be run from within Africa. Even though some sacrifices might need to be made at the beginning to ensure that .africa takes off in the best possible way, such as using external expertise to start up the registry, it is good to see the strong conviction within AfTLD to operate the .africa registry in Africa, utilising and further developing African registry management skills. That should happen as sooner than later” said Dr. Paulos Nyirenda, another AfTLD Excom member and head of the Malawi .MW ccTLD.

Dot Africa presents a unique online identity for the whole of Africa and should be seen as being complimentary to African ccTLDs. AfTLD is supportive of the role that the AU is playing through the AU Commission, as this provides important political buy-in, direction and leadership.

“ .africa should not be seen as a competitor to the ccTLDs that have already been established in Africa. .africa could be used to compliment country top level domains like .KE if the right business model is put in place that will benefit Africa ccTLD operations, AfTLD board is cognizant of this fact,” said Joe Kiragu, AfTLD Director for Capacity building and Excom Member.



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