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What do you think of a dot.Africa Top-Level Domain from the African Union?

By Wayan Vota on November 5, 2010

In a recent press release, the African Union made the case for a .Africa specific Internet namespace for Africa. Their argument is that this Generic Top-Level Domain, if approved by ICANN, will create an attractive regional home for the Pan-African Internet community; as the first sponsored registry to be operating from Africa and therefore serving the specific needs of Africa’s 86 million Internet users.

The Domain name DotAfrica is to contribute to the development of Internet on the African continent and proposes to re-invest back proceeds into the social and technological advancement initiatives within the community. A revenue allocation structure will be adopted by the DotAfrica registry to guarantee that a portion of revenues will be directly re-invested into the community through a grant program.

DotAfrica will be adding value to the namespace as a recognizable phrase which focuses on the Africa identity. It is likely to capture the essence of the community served. Indeed, DotAfrica will serve a community which spans over a large portion of region, therefore providing registrants with accrued possibilities for establishing their Internet presence.

Where’s the pressing need?

While I can see the interest in a dot.Africa domain name to generate additional URL registration fees, I don’t see the overall need for a dot.Africa domain. Each country level registrar is already fighting against the lure of dot.com. If anything, the African Union should be promoting transparent and affordable domain registration at the country level. Its only when domain ownership is saturated there, should there be a continental domain.

Focus on real issues

Rather than being sidetracked by dot.Africa, the African Union has more pressing ICT issues it should focus on. Like I meniotned before, there are Two Ways The African Union Can Take ICT Seriously:

  1. Push for Open and Competitive ICT Markets – reduce the artificially constraints on the ICT sector; unreasonably high fees, unnecessary regulation, and outright corruption
  2. Promote Universal Service Fees used for Universal Access – USF fees generate millions of dollars in revenue each year that should directly impact rural Africans.

What’s your opinion?

But enough of my thoughts. What do you think about a dot.Africa domain name? Would you be interested in one? Or would you be more excited about larger, more substantial changes to ICT in Africa.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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4 Comments to “What do you think of a dot.Africa Top-Level Domain from the African Union?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    3. AU Should facilitate national, regional & continental Internet Exchange points to keep local traffic local & thus drop costs

  2. Wayan Vota says:

    Yes, supporting country-level IPX’s would have a greater impact on African Internet experiences than a .africa domain name.

  3. Nnenna says:

    Personally I think .africa is an urgent need. There are individuals who do not have any attachment to any particular country or ccTLD I am one of those. I have always described myself as African. That is what I am and what I want to be.

  4. G says:

    While looking at the benefits of having each country level registrar, i think having a regional registrar for Africa would push more for the course and advantages that come with it, i believe that .africa domain wouldn’t only serve the commercial purposes but also political, socio-economic purposes, looking at .africa with a regional view gives a better and bigger picture. After the umbrella domain then we can have country code TLD’s linked. this would make the best formula rather than the other way round where we have Each country level registrar then integrate them. the process is easier this way.