From 15 September, the ZA Central Registry will begin taking applications to reserve domain names for the new .africa top-level domain. African governments can reserve names that are of national significance before general domain name registrations are opened to the public.
The process is intended to protect names under three categories. The first is geographic names, and includes names of countries, capital cities and major towns.
The second seeks to protect religious, cultural and linguistic names and includes languages, tribes, peoples, religious groups and places of cultural or religious significance.
The third and last category consists of economic and public interest names — those which are uniquely linked to government bodies and institutions. This category also covers offensive names that would inherently advocate prejudice or hatred on the basis of race, ethnicity, political association, gender, sexuality, religion, conscience or culture.
Domain names that are deemed offensive will be listed on the reserve name list indefinitely and no party will be able to register them.
Alice Munyua, who is leading .africa’s reserve name list process, says the ZA Central Registry recommends that “governments adopt a consultative process for developing a national list of reserved names”.
Munyua says only a registered government representative will be able to submit requests. “It is, however, incumbent on the relevant government authority to reserve and redeem names within the timeframe set out in the reserve name list policy using the prescribed systems and tools provided. Once the process is complete, the reserved names will not be available to any other entity except the beneficiary,” Munyua says.
Governments can ask to reserve up to 100 names and can lodge 20 applications in the offensive names category.
The official launch of .africa is expected to take place in March next year.