Tight contest for .africa domain

The .africa domain is being highly contested given the radical changes by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), organisation responsible for managing the Internet’s addresses, which had recently opened up name applications.

Certain gaps in agreements considering the .africa domain has previously existed, Sophia Bekele, director of Kenya’s non-profit Dot Connect Africa (DCA), told ITWeb Africa.

“The ICANN (Top Level Domain Application System) TAS application does not accept certain special characters, including the ‘.’, a problem that was generally faced by all applicants who had to work the TAS, so it did not accept .AFRICA, and it was input as DotAfrica – as it is pronounced,” Bekele stated.

A proposal for change has been handed in to the Icann from the DCA who abided in the Kenyan body’s request for alteration in the Africa domain name from .dotafrica to .africa.  

“As of October 29, we’ve received 138 change requests and approved and posted 29,” said ICANN’s manager for new gTLD communication, Michele Jourdan said.

According to some reports, South Africa’s Uniform SA (also known as the ZA Central Registry (ZACR)), has experienced the same challenges. However, Uniforum SA succeeded in securing the .africa domain as correctly listed by ICANN.

South Africa’s Uniforum has won the bid to apply for the .africa domain, together with a few others across the continent. The AU has awarded this right due to the support of 40 countries’ governments.

Dot Connect Africa has claimed to have received the support of the Africa Union (AU) with a signed letter from previous head Jean Ping.  However, the AU defeated these claims shortly after by publishing a statement of fraud allegation against them. 

Uniforum SA is now competing against the DCA in bidding for the domain.

“The Icann approval is a strong public vindicate on of DCA’s spirited defence of the .africa string name that it applied for, thereby making any string confusion or a contentious objection procedure on grounds of string similarity completely unnecessary and unwarranted,” DCA said in a statement.

However, ZACR does not plan to “object as the additional bidder does not represent a significant challenge.”

It is ZACR’s view that the conduct by the new second bidder since this process started has been noted by the global internet industry and it speaks volumes of their ability to properly manage Africa’s home on the internet.

Apart from applying and bidding, candidates for the .africa domain also needs endorsement of 60 percent of the African governments. This is required for all applying for a geography related network name.

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