Search on for African domain

Monday March 29 2010

By JOY WANJA

Africa will soon have its own internet domain name aimed at enhancing integration.

The dotafrica domain registry will be run by DotConnectAfrica (DCA), which has been mandated to launch the domain.

Ms Sophia Bekele, the DCA executive director, says the dotafrica (.africa) domain name will give Africa a continental identity and thereby increase business.

“It will be an easy transition once it is set up,” she said during the recent Pan Africa Media Conference in Nairobi.

Ms Bekele is a former adviser to the policy organ for the domain name issuing organisation Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN).

She says the cost of acquiring an address with the dotafrica domain would be more or less other existing continental domains.

The cost will also depend on the type of user with students paying less compared to commercial organisations. Ms Bekele is also the founder and CEO of CBS International, a private California-based firm engaged in technology transfer.

She has also worked with ICANN as a policy adviser and was part of the team that set up other domains in other continents like ‘dotEU’ and ‘dotAsia’

However, Ms Bekele says the lobbying process to acquire the licence has proved difficult due to a delay by the regulators to liberalise space.

“We hope to have it running by mid next year once the licence is approved,” Ms Bekele said.

Ms Bekele noted that Africa stands to lose for not being part of the internet society. She served on ICANN’s policy board from 2005-2007 and currently has initiated the formation of the African grouping within ICANN.

In February this year, the African Union heads of state meeting in Addis Ababa endorsed the dotafrica initiative.

“African Union is willing to offer assistance in the coordination of your initiative with Africa,” reads a letter signed by AU Commission chair Jean Ping.

Other key African regional organisations that have endorsed to DCA’s proposal include the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), which coordinates the economic affairs of governments in Africa.

In November last year, the Council of African Internet Communication Technology ministers met in South Africa and adopted a resolution to “establish dotafrica as a continental top-level domain for use by organisations, businesses and individuals with guidance from African internet agencies”.

DCA is also expected to work with respective top country domain registries such as .ke, .ug or .tz.