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Here is why you cannot get a .africa domain name

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One of these days you are going to wake up as I did almost 2 years ago and realise you have a million dollar idea that would be perfect for the entire African continent.

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This requires that you get a domain name so you quickly head over to GoDaddy or Namecheap or whoever your favourite international TLD seller is and attempt to register a catchy name that will do bucket loads of good for your SEO.

Everyone loves and remembers a .com so you attempt to register one only to realise that some scammer out there decided to squat on in and is only asking for $10 000. Or worse some international behemoth in their divine wisdom have decided to buy the domain so that it will redirect to their expensive site which has zero leads.

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As you continue your quest from one gTLD to another facing the same frustrations you realise one thing, you either have to settle for a domain hack like garik.ai or end up settling for those odd looking TLDs like .academy and .online.

The first option leaves you to deal with some pretty unreasonable domain authorities that will ask you to use a fax and pay thousands of dollars – why they cannot use some of that money to buy new computers escapes me.

The latter leaves you in a situation where you have to deal with some extensions that people are not familiar with, what does garikai.io have to do with a personal website?

But since this is an African dream an African territory TLD along the lines of .us, .asia and .eu would be perfect. As it happens the .africa TLD does indeed exist; sort of.

The .africa gTLD serves as a regional domain for individuals and entities based in and out of Africa. The catch is you cannot yet register yourname.africa domain yet.

Why?

Well, it’s a trite old tale of neo-colonialism, greed, political bickering, corruption, litigation and variable alliances. The story is long, convoluted and boring so I have created my own TLDR version

The short story

  • At the turn of the millennium (year 2000 CE) after we successfully squashed the vile Y2K bug it was decided to add more domain name extensions such as .africa to the list of existing TLDs
  • Some imperialist Irish company, Rathbawn Computers Limited, wanted the domain name for themselves so they could make money off poor Africans. Again. Fortunately, various comrades across the continent fought them off.
  • DotConnectAfrica Trust(DCA) is founded around 2006 and announces its intent to bid for the .africa TLD. DCA is based in Nairobi Kenya.
  • DCA is endorsed by the UN and other African Union bigwigs
  • In 2010 or thereabouts the African Union withdraws its support for the DCA bid to manage .africa apparently because the DCA wanted to hand over the domain registration management process to British imperialists. Domain names like our land are precious, and our valiant comrades would not allow this so they rescinded their support for the DCA bid and started supporting the ZAR registry’s effort to get and manage the .africa domain name on Africa’s behalf.
  • Internet bosses (Americans) ask for and receive applications from both ZAR registry and DCA projects in 2012
  • The internet bosses hand over the .africa domain to the ZAR registry in 2014 but the DCA imperialists were not about to let it slide.
  • The angry scorched earth policy DCA approached the United States of America’s courts seeking an injunction to stop this. So just like with the Berlin Conference a bunch of white people in a faraway land have the honour of deciding the fate of our continent.
  • The fist fight continues to this day with each side scoring Pyrrhic victories against each other as they fight for spoils. This is despite the fact that both entities claim to be non-profit initiatives who will donate their spoils to charity. Potbellied officials will probably have no trouble appropriating the majority of these funds before they reach poor peasants who will be frog-marched around in a photo op while they dance for crumbs.

When will this dispute end?

  • It will probably drag on for a long time. A reasonable judge, plaintiff and defendant would settle upon joint custody but that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.
  • We could settle for another TLD .afr or .afric for example but that would not be as catchy and there is always the risk of being sued by these two litigious goons.
  • Also due to a recent ruling, it’s possible you can get to register your .africa domain with ZAR registry for $18 soon or never.

The two project websites

  • DCA’s website can be found here 
  • The ZAR registry’s website can be found here.

Who is right?

  • It’s complicated: DCA shouldn’t have submitted their application after withdrawal of the essential AU support and they certainly should not have sought an injunction after losing
  • ZAR registry should have talked to DCA first
  • These two idiots are holding everyone back due their senile bickering and progress is the victim in all of this. They should reach an out of court settlement over the matter otherwise …

NB Although I put in a lot of effort when coming up with this summary version of events I would not vouch for the veracity under oath. The sources used were full of lawyer-speak half the time I could not even understand what they were saying and the .Africa Wikipedia page is an edit battlefield.

Now you will have to excuse me, I have to go and try to come up with an awesome domain name that captures my African dream.

Image credit: eNCA


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14 thoughts on “Here is why you cannot get a .africa domain name

  1. lets not call this imperialism or colonialism or other such buzzwords, which i think frankly is short sighted and naive

    its purely about money pure capitalist greed plain and simple – nothing else certain people want to make the profit and will stop at nothing to try and block better deals which shut them out from the feeding trough

        1. No this article is mocking certain kinds of people and the way they like to express things in a bid to fool the common man. Think of the Jews in Hitler’s Germany they were blamed for everything in a bid to distract people and it worked too.

  2. Thnks Garikai. This is a well written piece with the right balance of humour and “facts” (i.e. read explains what is happening). Like @anthony I usually am a bit skeptical about the use of the imperialist tag because more often than not, it is used when some political joker is setting you up to cart-off some loot to a Swiss account (do these accounts still exists), but here you just nailed mate!

  3. This is a very shallow article. Business is business, end of story. Would you not administer the .eu or .us domain as an African company if the opportunity or idea had come to you, before a european or american company had thought of it? It’s not too different from domain parking. We shouldn’t sensationalise events with our own unfounded opinions.

    1. These two entities are non profit organisations. And as already pointed out the imperialistic angle is just dark humor. As for the business angle you are advocating, it has it’s limits believe me. In the US they also tout national interest. Imagine the .us domain being run from Russia. Fox News, CNN and even abc news would go hysterical. Nationalistic sentiments are not always to be abhorred my friend. If Africa is to amount to anything it surely has to run its own domain name. I cannot understand why you would not see that. Kinda of explains the the current trade deficit that we have.

      1. Ideally, yes, we should manage our own domains, but you also shouldn’t feel entitled to deserve something when half the time people sit on their butts. The trade deficit we have has nothing to do with domain names, what does Zispa managing the .co.zw domain benefited Zimbabwe in terms of trade with other countries? Nothing!!

        1. I totally agree, but the ZAR registry is more than capable of managing a TLD and everyone agrees even ICANN . The DCA just feels jilted since they were made a promise and lost during the application process. They can just agree to both implement the plant hence my argument for an out of court settlement.

  4. DCA never got endorsed by the UN. ZACR is endorsed by most African governments. There is really no controversy here.

  5. Dear Garikai,
    Well done on the good write. We’ll be looking out for updates to this gripping story. Zvevanhu vema feeling station ava, vasingagoni kungosekawo panoda kusekwa hatingazvitedzi.

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