The South African Domain Authority, the administrator of the new .africa generic Top Level Domain (gTLD), has launched an awareness programme targeting Africa’s best known brands.
Launched on 7 May 2013, the .africa Pioneer Programme is designed to encourage premier set of influential establishments in various sectors including government, commerce and the arts to lend their support to Africa’s new position in the online community. African movers and shakers and their brands are invited to participate in the program which will entitle them to register their .africa domains upon their availability later this year. Participants of Pioneer Programme will be able to have their chosen .africa domain name entered onto a Reserve Name List. They will have first rights to the name, once it is delegated. This, in turn, will entail actively using .africa domain name as well as the programme logo: „I support .africa” by the Pioneer participants in their marketing campaigns.
The .africa domain is a new TLD for the entire African continent and it is fully backed by the African Union (AU). Various African communities and establishments including governments, the business community, the technical sector and civil society are all in favour of Africa’s own space on the internet which is to be managed by the ZACR (ZA Central Registry). It is worth noting that the ZACR .africa initiative, an unprecedented pan-African cooperation, is led by a multi-stakeholder Steering Committee from across the African continent.
While the .africa Top Level Domain is being assessed by ICANN, the new gTLDs are planned to be delegated in the third quarter of 2013 – subsequently the launch and registration of the .africa TLD will be possible.
The .africa domain is planned to be launched in two phases, namely: Sunrise and Landrush. During the Sunrise phase, priority for sales will be given to trademark and brand names holders, such as anticipated Pioneer Programme participants. After that, the Landrush phase (the open delegation) will begin. Trademarks will need to be registered with the Trademark Clearing House or through the Mark Validation System (MVS, a ZACR’s system modeled on the Trademark Clearing House to be used to validate trademark holders).
The above steps will guarantee that .africa domain names will be sold to the rightful intellectual property holders.