Scramble for .Africa heats up


Image: Koffi Fabrice Djossou. By ICANNwiki
Koffi Fabrice Djossou

Africa can soon look forward to having its own online space, with plans firmly afoot to introduce a continental .africa generic Top Level Domain by 2013.

This is according to the African Registry Consortium (ARC), a pan-African consortium that aims to administer the .africa domain by Africa and for Africa. Regions like Asia and Europe already making use of similar domain names. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will have the final say in who administers the domain.

Several of the players involved in ARC are also involved in the administration of the domain name space in South Africa, which is currently under the administration of UniForum SA.The same EPP technology currently being implemented for and other .za second level domains, will be utilised for the .africa domain idf ARC has its way. “We see .africa as the ideal opportunity to highlight African know-how and expertise”, said ARC Spokesman and founding member, Koffi Fabrice Djossou. 

One only has to look at how the domain funds are applied by UniForum SA, to see the benefits of having the .africa domain administered by an African organisation. UniForum` social responsibility initiative, for instance, launches at least two new computer labs at previously disadvantaged schools every single month, with more than 200 labs having already been completed.

“This new domain will give the continent a truly African identity for the first time and will allow companies and organisations operating here to proudly highlight their African operations and identity,”says Djossou.

The goal is to promote an African identity for the continent while at the same time improving the security aspects around such a domain.

“ARC is seeking the backing of the African Union, as the AU has also recognised the commercial and social benefits that the .africa domain may present. For example, there is always a concern regarding what happens to the fees paid for domains. In this regard, ARC is building a multi-stakeholder model for Africa and funds will go to the pan-African Internet organisations where it will be used to promote ICT, and in particialr DNS, development and education,” he says.

At present, continues Djossou, ARC includes representatives from Senegal, Kenya, Benin and South Africa, and the door remains open to other African nations that may express interest in getting involved with ARC. ARC is also keenly interested in developing the African gTLD registrar community and in doing so to encourage ICT enterprise development on the continent.

“ARC sees its role as being one of assisting to promote African ICT development, to create additional value for Africa, and to impact on the social and economic development within the continent. This can only be achieved with an African-based administrator, who understands these important considerations and the african domain name environment. After all, when an organisation purchases a .com domain, the money doesn’t remain in Africa; ARC wants to ensure that when it comes to the .africa domain, the same thing does not happen.”

“ARC aims to bring this same mentality to the task of delivering similar types of benefits to the continent, focusing on those areas where there is a desperate need to improve ICT services and training.”

He says that when the .africa domains begin appearing – around the start of 2013, according to ICANN – it will truly revolutionise the domain name space within Africa, enabling the continent toproudly identify itself. Furthermore, says Djossou, a little further down the line the domain will begin appearing in other languages, such as French and Arabic.

“ARC aims to continue to seek additional support from the various African communities and to make Africa more aware of the benefits of having the .africa domain. ARC is not only run by Africans, for Africans, but it utilises African technology and know-how to do so. We believe it is time for Africans to innovate, rather than simply copying others. ARC’s goal is to drive African innovation and help Africans to rely on their own resources, rather than always looking to other parts of the world for answers,” concludes Djossou.

- Reliable Sources

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