The Internet keeps improving, implementing more features and becoming more useful to all its users in an immense number of ways. A noteworthy improvement is the explosion of personalized domain names. This system has allowed a number of companies to further their presence and marketing collateral. Whilst all this was happening one highly sought after domain name remained out of the reach of billions of people for a number of years. The .Africa domain name remained out of the reach of millions of Africans for many years, whilst the rest of the world enjoyed these new domain names. The reason for the delay in the release of the dotAfrica domain name space has been the result of a dispute over the rights to manage this resource on behalf of all Africans.
So what would access to this domain name mean for Africans? The African Union Commission (AUC) has noted a number of benefits that would come with access to this domain space, for example being tool to bring the Continent together as one united Internet community. In addition, this resource will provide opportunities for improving the conducting of business for African companies in the technology, ecommerce and communications infrastructure sector. In essence, this would be the most powerful way in which the Continent would be able to contribute to the global digital economy.
The 15th of February 2017, saw this ideal realized when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) began the process of delegating the dotAfrica generic top-level domain to the ZA Central Registry. This came after a California Superior Court ruled against DotConnectAfrica’s (DCA) (the ZACR’s rival registry in the dotAfrica case) second motion for a preliminary injunction to stop delegation.
The effects of this case saw chairperson of the AUC, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, announcing the launch of the domain name space in Addis Ababa on March 10th, 2017. The ZACR registry will be delegated with the duty of handling the registrations of all who would like to use the suffix and the general availability of the domain name is expected to begin on the 4t of July 2017. This is a great step for the continent in terms of making a mark in the global digital economy and it is great to see the excitement of the public across the continent at the prospect of finally being able to use it (MD of Africa.com domains noted in 2013 that after the first few weeks after the company started offering domains, trademark and brand owners started requesting domains which included; twitter.africa, starbucks.africa and standardbank.africa, just to name a few.)