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The scramble for .africa

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A while ago I wrote about the fight between the ZAR registry and DCA. They were fighting a proxy war through their US based lawyers over who should be the primary registrar for the .africa TLD. The fight is far from over but earlier this year the presiding court decided to allow the ZAR registry to roll out domain registration while the two registrars continue to duke each other.

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The website nic.africa was quickly launched  by the ZAR registry and the roll out began.So for the past couple months or so Trademark and Copyright holders were given the opportunity to register their .africa domains at a premium fee. A lot of them have done so with Google.africa, intex.africa etc being registered.

There are very few .africa websites (site:.africa search) at the moment since most registrations have thus far been mostly defensive. According to namestat.org there are over 2800 .africa domain that have been already registered.

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This might seem modest but the TLD is in its infancy. Before 1 July only Trademark holders and Copyright holders were registering. From 1 July you could get your name.africa for around $200 which was a bit steep for the market I guess.

Starting from 1 August you can now get the domain name for as low as $21. A lot of registrars have not activated the TLD however. In the meantime domain squatters have already started snapping away all the dictionary words like fortune.africa etc.

Get your own domain before it’s too late

Many of us came onto the ICT scene well after the .com rush. In fact I wasn’t even born yet when they launched the .com TLD. As a result of this most of the recognizable names like garikai.com ,zimbabwe.com,dzoma.com or techzim.com were already gone.

Most of these are in the hands of scammers and speculators. These often prey on people who by happenstance stumble upon their parked domains that show ads. A lot are looking to extort money from those looking to use these domains.

Now would be a good time to get your own .africa domain. I myself have already registered a domain that I have been eyeing for a while using Netim. A lot of registrars have not yet activated the TLD but are taking preregistrations. Netim have already started actively registering .africa domains.

This might see you losing out to squatters who will buy these domains for speculative purposes. Also other registrars are charging quite high prices when compared to Netim which is asking for €18 ($21.50).

It is not possible to register two letter/character domain names like gq.africa at the moment. Also all three character/letter domains are considered premium domain names. You will have to pay an initial fee of  € 546.50 ($650). You can renew the domain for the usual €18 ($21.50) after that.

Steps to register

  1. Visit the Netim website
  2. Search for your preferred domain name
  3. You will be told if the name is available. Also note that in some instances you might be told that there is a claim over your domain. This does not mean the domain is not available it simply means that a certain Copyright holder/Trademark holder has a trademark which uses the keyword you have searched for. Click on view claim to check the name of the rights owner and their field of business. In most cases these are non African entities whose interest are unlikely to clash with yours. In any case the fact that they haven’t registered the domain by now probably means they do not care.
  4. Click Add to cart
  5. Click checkout
  6. Choose auto configuration when prompted
  7. Create an account
  8. Confirm the order
  9. You can pay using Paypal, MasterCard ( Ecocash VCN) or Visa

Your domain name will be live in 6-12 hours after you place order provided there are no hitches. If there is a rights holder with a claim they have to waive their rights first which means your registration might take longer.

This is the moment for that perfect african startup to seize a meaningful continent wide domain. As always: May the odds be ever in your favour.