Registry calls on African countries to apply for domain names

Digital Content

The ZA Central Registry is calling on African governments to apply for certain internet domain names reserved for national interests before the general registrations are opened.

In 2011, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), which oversees domain names, opened the internet top-level domain names beyond .com, .net and .org.

This means users will be able to set up a website with almost any address, such as .durban — a domain name for which a bid has already passed Icann’s first evaluation stage.

The registry, which oversees the internet domain names registry, has launched the dotAfrica reserve name list policy. The policy will give governments pre-emptive rights to some names to protect their national interests.

From September 15, governments would be able to start reserving their identified domain names, Alice Munyua, who is leading the process, said on Tuesday.

The process is intended to protect names under three main categories:

• geographic names, including names of countries, capital cities and major towns;

• religious, cultural and linguistic names, including languages, tribes, peoples, religious groups and places of cultural or religious significance; and

• economic and public interest names that are uniquely linked to governmental authorities.

Ms Munyua said offensive names that inherently advocated prejudice or hatred on the basis of race, ethnicity, political association, gender, sexuality, religion, conscience or culture would also be placed on the reserve name list "indefinitely and be blocked from registration by any party".

According to Ms Munyua, governments have been asked, through the African Union Commission, to nominate a focal point through which the applications for national reserve names will be submitted.

"It is, however, incumbent on the relevant government authority to reserve and redeem names within the timeframe set out in the (reserve name list) policy using the prescribed systems and tools provided. Once the process is complete, the reserved names will not be available to any other entity except the beneficiary."