Monday, May 21, 2012

Africa to get its own web domain

Africa to get its own web domain

A project to establish a continental top-level domain for Africa is gaining momentum, with UniForum South Africa set to know by July whether its application has been successful.

UniForum, South Africa's .za central registry, was appointed to establish and operate the domain on behalf of Africa, said director Neil Dundas.

The dotAfrica project was promoted and led by the African Union Commission (AUC) and supported by over 40 African governments.

UniForum said registration cost $185 000 for each domain and held a $25 000-a-year maintenance fee. The company had earmarked about $1.3-million for the project.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers received over 2 000 applications for generic top-level domains since opening the first wave of applications three months ago. Applications for further registrations were closed.

A steering committee, which comprised a number of individuals and organisations, was leading and developing the dotAfrica application and launch.

The steering committee was established as a precursor to the dotAfrica Foundation, which would be launched as soon as the domain went live.

The foundation would, besides other beneficiation functions, use surplus funds from the sales of domain names under dotAfrica to further build the continent's registrar market and oversee a number of projects and initiatives relating to the African Internet and domain name industries.

Currently, all countries in Africa, with the exception of Kenya and South Africa, held less 10 000 country domain websites, while Kenya, with the .ke domain, had about 20 000 subscribers. South Africa, with domains such as and, had over 800 000 subscribers.

With the implementation of .Africa, Uniforum aimed to attract over 100 000 new subscribers over the next three years.

Further, UniForum applied for .joburg, .durban, and .capetown domains in light of increasing competition between international cities to brand themselves. The city domains would be operated under the current, established .za domain.

The company was currently in consultation with the three cities, and, while the Durban and Cape Town governments were still deciding whether they would apply for a domain name, Johannesburg was already on board.

UniForum said a domain name would be charged at $18 a year for a .Africa domain, and between R100 and R150 a year for a city domain name.

The company hoped to launch the domains for public registration in February or March next year.

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