Johannesburg - Years after being awarded the right to roll out the .Africa web domain, the ZA Central Registry (ZACR) is finally gearing up to start making the name available to the general public.
The .Africa project forms part of the latest generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) names for the internet, which encompass the likes of '.com' and '.net'. This means that it will be possible to register internet names such as 'www.news24.africa' in the near future.
In 2014, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) - which is a worldwide web administrator - awarded the delegation of .Africa to ZACR after a bidding process.
But Kenya’s DotConnectAfrica (DCA), which was the only other bidder for the name, challenged ICANN’s decision in a US court, resulting in delays.
However, after DCA in December lost a second motion in a Californian court for a preliminary injunction to stop ICANN’s delegation of the domain name to ZACR, this ended the legal process.
Subsequently, the final delegation of the .Africa Top Level Domain to Registry Africa, a wholly -owned subsidiary of the ZA Central Registry NPC (ZACR), has moved forward.
ZACR now has a tentative date, subject to approval by ICANN, for general availability of the domain name to start on July 4 2017.
"In technical terms, .Africa is resolving in the root zone," said ZACR CEO, Lucky Masilela.
"In layperson's terms, .Africa will soon be open for business," he said.
Prior to general availability towards the middle of 2017, there are also expected to be sunrise and land-rush phases in April.
The sunrise phase will see intellectual property rights holders applying for their respective names and, the land-rush phase will see premium name applicants applying.
"All attempts to stall the public availability of the .Africa geographic Top Level Domain (gTLD) have failed and it's now time to create the next chapter in the .Africa story," said Masilela.
The move to launch .Africa further comes after ZACR opened up city domain names .capetown, .joburg and .durban to the public in late 2014.