The introduction of the .africa global top-level domain name to the online community has been a long process, but it will finally be available to the general public from 4 July 2017.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) delegated .africa to Registry Africa, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the ZA Central Registry (ZACR). This development comes after years of legal battles which stood in the way of ICANN from delegating .africa to Registry Africa.
The public can expect the domain to be launched in three phases: sunrise, landrush and general. The ‘sunrise’ phase prioritises trademark and brand names; ‘landrush’ applications open applications for premium and sought-after names, after which the general public can apply from 4 July onwards.
Trademark holders will need to follow an ICANN-prescribed process in which the registry operator confirms that the trademark is genuine and the domain has been sold to a valid entity. Part of this process involves the trademark holder registering their trademarks with the ICANN Trademark Clearing House or the Mark Validation System.
While the domain name is new, the process will remain the same as registering any other domain name. Interested parties will simply need to contact an accredited Internet Service Provider (ISP) or registrar to assist with the registration process.