Three Largest South African Cities Join gTLD Applicants

The three largest South African cities of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town have all decided having their cities as generic Top Level Domains is a good idea and have joined with ZA Central Registry, who will apply for the gTLDs.

The three gTLDs – .JOBURG, .DURBAN and .CAPETOWN – will join .AFRICA as four applications ZA Central Registry submitted to ICANN in April before the TLD Application System was taken offline on 12 April due to a security problem.

Of the .AFRICA application, Uniforum SA director, Neil Dundas said “The dotAfrica TLD will bring the continent together as an internet community under one umbrella allowing e-commerce, technology and infrastructure to flourish,” according to MyBroadband.

Dundas said he hopes the .AFRICA gTLD will be launched in early 2013 with domain names priced at US$18 (R150) per year, while pricing for the South African city gTLDs will be slightly more expensive.

The applications for the city gTLDs were motivated by interest the registry has seen from various South African entities and because of the international trend of cities branding themselves and competing with each other for attention online, according to a Tech Central report.

A condition of the application for .AFRICA has been the establishment of a foundation to assist the African registrar community.

Vika Mpisane, Managing Director at the .ZA Domain Name Authority, told Tech Central that part of the application process was for a .AFRICA foundation to be established.

“This was an AU requirement,” Mpisane said. “There will be surplus [money] from commercial uptake and this is expected to be used to build a domain-name community. We’ve set up a steering committee, with the chairman based in Qatar.

“The model is simple: extra money goes into building an African registrar community. There are more than 1000 accredited registrars worldwide, but only four in Africa. We need to grow this number because registrars provide the marketing channel for domains.”

The bid for .AFRICA could be contested by other parties who previously have expressed an interest in applying for the gTLD, but with the application backed by the .ZA Domain Name Authority and the South African Department of Communications, as well as the support of the African Union (AU) and 40 of the 54 African states, it is likely to be the preferred bid. One of the rules for a geographic gTLD application is that it must have the support at least 60 per cent of the respective national governments in the region. But they also have to be concerned that “there may be no more than one written statement of objection to the application from relevant governments in the region and/or public authorities associated with the continent or the region.” Which would cause a problem if another applicant gained some support of a number of African states.