March 17, 2010
The .com generation may soon be referred to as the .africa generation if the attempt by Dot Connect Africa to register the .africa domain name succeeds.
Dot Connect Africa, a public policy not for profit organization, wants Africa to have an on line identity through a top level domain name. This initiative hopes to help Africa bridge the digital divide.
The idea is the brainchild of Sophia Bekele and is currently in the final phase of registration. The idea was born during her tenure as an IT and policy consultant at ICANN. ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the private non-profit corporation with responsibility for IP address space allocation, protol parameter assignment, domain name system management, and root server system management functions, the services previously performed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).
Ms. Bekele, speaking during the 1% Club Technology Forum at the University of Nairobi, on Friday 12th March 2010 said “The EU have theirs .eu, Asia have theirs as .asia, so why not Africa?” Sophia said the idea initially face resistance from fellow Africans at ICANN. They were skeptical of African Governments uniting in such an initiative. The skepticism was ignored and a proposal was presented to a commission at the African Union (AU) two years ago.
The initiative earlier in the year received the support of AU heads of state and government. This happened during the 14th Ordinary Summit of the African Union that took place in Addis Ababa Ethiopia.
Once the domain name is up and running, a hierarchical payment system will be used. This means that the inverted pyramid system used will have the lowest level being students charged student rates to register domains while corporations will be charged corporate rates which are higher. Bekele says that this would encourage many young Africans who have websites and blogs registered with .com domains to switch .africa. The long term vision is to have .africa as the real estate with everyone building their site on it.
It appears that the future of Africa in IT looks bright as generation .africa tells generation .com to move over.