Kenya, S.Africa domain row intensifies

Tuesday March 15 2016

Internet users in a cyber cafe. Improving Information, Communications and Technology infrastructure promotes a country's economic development. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The fight between Kenya and South Africa over hosting and control of the DotAfrica domain registry looks set to persist. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The fight between Kenya and South Africa over hosting and control of the DotAfrica domain registry looks set to persist.

Kenya initiated a court process stopping South Africa from hosting the registry, after ZA Central Registry (ZACR) last week got the go-ahead from an international body to host the registry, after a battle that stretched for over two-and-a-half years.

However, locally hosted DotConnectAfrica Trust (DCA) froze the order in an American court.

“...the board authorises the President and CEO, or his designee(s), to proceed with the delegation of .AFRICA to be operated by ZACR pursuant to the Registry Agreement that ZACR has entered with ICANN,” said a board resolution by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on Thursday last week.

The board resolved that the DCA application to host the registry did not have sufficient government support as per the Authority’s applicant guidebook. The application was therefore cancelled and rendered “unqualified” for further review and evaluation.

Rival DCA had earlier filed a case at a US district court in California to try to fight the resolution. DCA won the case on March 4 and was granted a temporary restraining order against ICANN.

The order prevents any allocation of dotAfrica until a court hearing set for the first week of April is concluded. At the meeting, DCA plans to seek an injunction stopping South Africa from hosting the top level domain – A top level domain is the last segment in an internet address such as .com and .net; it helps to identify a key attribute of the website associated with it.

The dotAfrica domain for instance is set to be a distinctive pan-African identification for regional online operations when it is opened up for registration.


The dotAfrica project is sponsored by the African Union and supported by the Africa Top Level Domain organisation (AfTLD). ICANN is the Authority that delegates the countries the role of carrying the registry.

South Africa has fought hard and long to host the domain fearing that its opponent Kenya would attract more foreign direct investments if it hosts the registry. It is also prestigious to be the regional host of the dotAfrica domain.

The host country also benefits from increasing online content generation, establishing regulations on registrations, intellectual property, dispute resolution and promotion of ICT in the entire African continent.

“The dotAfrica domain will be used as a vehicle to promote the development of Africa’s Internet services and ecosystem,” says the African Union in a statement.

“The allocation of dotAfrica allows organisations and individuals interested in acquiring an African online identity to do so, it gives added visibility and identity to operations in the region.”

Kenya started in 2011, under the leadership of the then ICT Minister Samuel Pogishio, preparing to host the top level domain.

Agreements have been signed between DCA and Safaricom, Fincom Technologies to ensure sufficient hardware and network infrastructure that would support the registry.

Of importance to Kenya is the need to widen its reach as an ICT hub not only for East Africa but for the entire continent. This in turn would put the country in the best position to increase its FDI inflows and attract more investments.

“It would also ensure investor confidence on local companies, Intellectual Property protection which has been an issue to Kenyan entrepreneurs will be easy to manage with a local domain,” said Serianu managing director Mr William Makatiani.