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Competition for .africa heats up

Kevin Murphy, March 10, 2011, 11:57:42 (UTC), Domain Registries

AfTLD, an organization of African country-code top-level domain operators, has announced its intention to apply to ICANN for the .africa TLD.

The initiative appears to be different to and competitive with the best-known .africa applicant to date, Sophia Bekele’s DotConnectAfrica.

AfTLD said that it plans to seek a mandate for .africa from the Commission of the African Union. It also expects to discuss forming a company to manage the bid at a meeting in Ghana next month.

Vika Mpisane, AfTLD’s chairman and general manager of South Africa’s .za ccTLD, said in a press release:

We are not just interested in .africa only, but we want to also take on .afrique, which is the French version of .africa. It’s only natural for us to do this because at least 50% of Africa speaks French. We also intend to have an internationalised version of .africa as well because we have significant Arabic Africa population, but we will start definitely with .africa first.

AfTLD shortly intends to announce a “leading registry services provider” to run its back-end, but indicated that in future it would expect to run the registry from within Africa.

The current version of ICANN’s new TLDs Applicant Guidebook sets the bar for a .africa bid very high, in practice possibly requiring near-universal governmental support.

A bidder for this kind of protected geographic term would require letters of support from 60% of the nations concerned. For Africa, as the Guidebook defines it, that’s about 34 countries.

However, crucially, if more than one African government were to object in writing to any given .africa application, that bid could be killed off.

AfTLD has 24 ccTLD registry members. They’re not all government-run TLDs, of course, so it doesn’t necessarily follow that it already has 24 countries on board.

A key question is whether endorsement of a bid by the African Union could be interpreted as blanket approval from all of its 53 member governments. I don’t think that’s a given, under the letter of the Guidebook.

But if it is, DotConnectAfrica may already be there. It has a signed letter from AU Commission chairman Jean Ping, dated August 2009, that endorses its specific bid.

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Comments (7)

  1. Rono says:

    Mr Murphy ,I appreciate the information. It appears that Aftld’s proposals is not different at all from the DCA however much they want to impress differently in fact Aftld’s idea and tone is an exact mirror which shows how embarrassing it is to know that the such an organization would wait till its late evening only to copy paste everything from framework to text from DCA claiming to go after .africa . Might I just refer the DCA Dec 17th PR http://prlog.org/11153598 an idea clearly articulated the panafrican idea not forgetting the social media sites strongly backed by a framework of dotafrique and dotafrigya with rich content for both language groups. And what about Generation.africa, shall we also see this brilliant authenticity claimed by Aftld?

    To ask why Aftld came out pretty much in the last minutes to want to topple DCA’s efforts is unwarranted, noting that they(Aftld) do not have the capacity nor mandate to involve itself in a huge continental project such as .africa. Its honestly not a competition rather it’s only fair to call it sabotage, everyone knows in the fraternity who Aftld’s affiliations and advisors are however much they try to right a tainted past. Thus their coup against DCA using Africa Union who in fact endorsed and mandated DCA 9months ago for project dotafrica as their political gimmick to hurt the well charted organized DCA’s track record may and will never work, not when a lot has been achieved.

  2. […] has been mustering support for .africa for a few years, but since March it has faced a rival bid from AfTLD, an association of African country-code […]

  3. […] task force members are involved with AfTLD, the African ccTLD association that has also announced it is preparing a .africa […]

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