, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 7 – More than 8,000 brands and businesses in Africa and around the world have signed up for the .africa domain name.
Lucky Masilela, CEO of the ZACR, the non-profit company tasked with administering the new .africa domain name says those who have signed up include banks to media companies.
“Leading continental and international brands are snapping up .africa domain names because they recognise the importance of being associated with Africa’s bright future online. With many positive stories coming out of Africa, brands understand that .africa domain names are a valuable virtual real estate,” Masilela says.
The new internet address has also been hailed by outgoing AU commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who said it would help Africans and their businesses to better reach the world.
The proposal to have a .africa domain address is articulated in the Oliver Tambo and Abuja Declarations of the 1990s, which stated that ICT would be central to Africa’s future well-being.
.africa comes 32 years after the world’s first domain name, .com, was registered. Other popular domains include .us, .au and .ch among others.
Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the lowest rates of Internet penetration in the world, according to the World Bank, with only around 22 per cent of people online compared to the global average of 44 per cent.
The African Union has vowed to increase broadband internet penetration by 10 per cent by next year as part of its ‘Agenda 2063’ development proposal.
As the continent’s largest economy, South Africa dominates African presence online, holding 1.1 million of the two million website registrations on the continent, says Masilela.
High fees are an obstacle to many people who want to register a website, Masilela said.
In some African countries, it can cost as much as $250 (Sh25, 796) but Masilela said .africa addresses will be available at a cut-price rate of just $18 to anyone on the continent.
“.africa is going to be a market disruptor and will assist in lowering the cost of domain names,” Masilela said.