Nairobi — Africa will now have its own Internet domain name; dot Africa, in the next 18 months.
This is after the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) completes its evaluation for over 500 applications from various Registry Operators across Africa who have shown interest to run and manage the domain name.
ICANN, which is the global company responsible for allocating Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and managing the systems, will give its final decision in the first quarter of 2013.
Kenya Internet Governance Steering Committee chair at the Ministry of Information Alice Munyua said the name will help market African investors to the outside world through the Internet.
"Dot Africa is a top level domain name, similar to what we have here in Kenya, dot ke; like the way we use gmail.com, yahoo.co.uk and so on. So this is going to be a very new top level domain name that identifies Africa as a whole region," said Munyua.
The successful applicant is required to release details on how individuals and organisations from various parts of the continent can go about registering with the name.
Legal and Policy Manager at South African based company UniForum, Neil Dundas, sought to defend his firm after the African Union (AU) endorsed it to be selected by ICANN.
He instead said ICANN has the final word and that whoever wins will be monitored for five years and if proved incapable, the management will be given to another domain Registry company from any company in the continent.
"We have tried our best to work with the African stakeholders including the African Union Commission, to ensure that South Africa is not seen as a monopoly on this," clarified Dundas.
He said Kenya is going to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the initiative, due the rapid increase in the use of Internet especially by the business community to sell their products and services online.