South Africans can expect the launch of three new city domains, .joburg, .capetown and .durban, before the end of the year. TechCentral first reported on the new city domains in 2012.
It appears likely that the .africa domain, which was contested by a Mauritius-based company, will be available at the same time as the new city domains. The new domains are expected to cost between US$18 and $20 each per year.
Neil Dundas, acting CEO for ZA Central Registry (formerly known as UniForum), says the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) has spent the past year evaluating applications for new domains.
The new generic generic top-level domain (gTLD), .africa, also looks likely to become available around the same time, although it is subject to further evaluation because, unlike the city domains, it has been contested by another applicant, DotConnectAfrica. However, the latter applicant lacks endorsement of the African Union. One of the requirements for a geographic gTLD is broad-based support from governments in the region the domain will represent.
At an Icann meeting in Beijing, China earlier this month, the body’s governmental advisory committee advised it against allowing DotConnectAfrica’s application to proceed. According to a committee document, “this will create a strong presumption for the Icann board that the application should not be approved”.
Dundas says the ZA Central Registry is now looking beyond the application phase and at ways in which to ensure the success of the new domains.
“We’re looking at reserve name lists to protect sensitive names like government-related ones around Africa,” Dundas says. “We’re creating the same lists for city domains.”
Domains that are likely to prove popular or that relate to brands will be made available during a “sunrise” process that will precede public availability of the new domains.
“Before we make domains available to general public, we need to give brand owners the opportunity to claim their domains. We’re trying to educate the intellectual property and brand communities about this.”
Once the new domains become publicly available, anyone will be able to register addresses using them, even people from outside of South Africa or Africa. “Our view is that ultimately the domain will be an open domain so you don’t have to be in the region to register.”
One of the other locally relevant domains that remains subject to evaluation is .zulu. A London-based company requested it, but the ZA Central Registry has opposed the application. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media