Guest Post: Who deserves control of .africa gTLD?

Basing on the possibility that .Africa (dotAfrica) Top Level Domain (gTLD) could soon be introduced, challenges including who should administer its registration await its penetration into the African market.

DotConnectAfrica (DCA), which has from the beginning been the primary advocate for the dotAfricaTLD got a huge boost when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced it would reduce restriction on the number of gTLDs.

This was a real victory to the firm until recently when the Africa Union (AU) tried to hijack the initiative and run it as its own. The African Union (AU) recently selected a South African registry UniForum SA as their preferred company to handle the registration of the dotAfrica TLD in the continent. This has prompted a fight for control over dotAfrica between DCA’s Boss, Sophia Bekele and AU.

Sophia Bekele argues that if the AU insists on control and ownership of the dotAfrica TLD, then they have to be subjected to ICANN applicant procedures just like the rest of the applicants.

“They should not be given preferential treatment to the detriment of other appicants” Sophia Bekele said

The Africa Union is using its political influence to reserve .africa, .afrique, and .afriqia so as to control and own the process of selling the gTLDs. The question one would ask is, should government or private sector be running the process?

Indeed, dotAfrica has the potential of uniting African businesses and this could bring positive improvement on trade between Africa.

Country Code Top-Level domains (ccTLDs) are now picking up and most businesses have rushed to secure their brand names.

In Kenya, over 19,000 .KE Domains have been sold showing that the momentum is catching up. However, there are still challenges in the cost of buying .co.ke (est. KSh. 3,000) as compared to .com (est. KSh1,000). Thus, the cost structure for dotAfrica will have an impact on its own success.

DotAfrica needs to also learn lessons from .EURO, .ASIA, .Travel which haven’t had any big impact. Since ICANN has open window for anyone to start their own gTLD. Below are the requirements that any company or organization needs to meet in order to qualify.

For instance, if HumanIPO wants to acquire its own gTLD, it would be required to pay the ICANN $185,000 or Ksh. 15,725,000 and show that it has technical capabilities to run .humanipo. HumanIPO will also have to fill out a 360 pages long application form.

Enock Kiprono is an Internet Business Entrepreneur, who empowers & network entrepreneurs & investors through Fenesi.com and also runs Infoken – Web Design & Hosting Firm. . Follow him @enockkiprono.

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