Africa can soon look forward to having its own online space, with plans firmly afoot to introduce a continental .africa generic Top Level Domain (TLD) by 2013.
This is according to the African Registry Consortium (ARC), a pan-African consortium that aims to administer the .africa domain by Africa and for Africa.
Regions like Asia and Europe already making use of similar domain names. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will have the final say in who administers the domain.
Several of the players involved in ARC are also involved in the administration of the co.za domain name space in South Africa, which is currently under the administration of UniForum SA.
The same EPP technology currently being implemented for co.za and other .za second level domains, will be utilised for the .africa domain idf ARC has its way.
“We see .africa as the ideal opportunity to highlight African know-how and expertise”, said ARC Spokesman and founding member, Koffi Fabrice Djossou.
“One only has to look at how the co.za domain funds are applied by UniForum SA, to see the benefits of having the .africa domain administered by an African organization,” said the ARC.
“UniForum`s co.za social responsibility initiative, for instance, launches at least two new computer labs at previously disadvantaged schools every single month, with more than 200 labs having already been completed.”
“This new domain will give the continent a truly African identity for the first time and will allow companies and organisations operating here to proudly highlight their African operations and identity,” says Djossou.
According to ARC the goal is to promote an African identity for the continent while at the same time improving the security aspects around such a domain.
“ARC is seeking the backing of the African Union, as the AU has also recognised the commercial and social benefits that the .africa domain may present,” he says.
At present, continues Djossou, ARC includes representatives from Senegal, Kenya, Benin and South Africa, and the door remains open to other African nations that may express interest in getting involved with ARC.
He says that when the .africa domains begin appearing – around the start of 2013, according to ICANN – it will truly revolutionise the domain name space within Africa, enabling the continent toproudly identify itself.
Furthermore, says Djossou, a little further down the line the domain will begin appearing in other languages, such as French and Arabic.