The ZA Central Registry (ZACR) has launched its dotAfrica Reserve Name List policy with a call for African governments to apply for certain names to be reserved.
This process aims to provide governments with an opportunity to protect their national interests by reserving names relevant to them and their citizens.
“From 15 September 2013, governments will be able to start reserving their identified domain names,” says Alice Munyua, who is leading the dotAfrica Reserve Name List (RNL) process.
The process is intended to protect names under three main categories: Firstly – geographic names including names of countries, capital cities and major towns. Secondly – religious, cultural and linguistic names, including languages, tribes, peoples, religious groups and places of cultural or religious significance. Finally – economic and public interest names, which are uniquely linked to Governmental Authorities.
It also covers a fourth category of offensive names that would inherently advocate prejudice or hatred on the basis of race, ethnicity, political association, gender, sexuality, religion, conscience or culture. Offensive names will be listed on the RNL indefinitely and will be blocked from registration by any party.
“We recommend that governments adopt a consultative process for developing a national list of reserved names,” Munyua says.
Governments have been requested, through the African Union Commission, to nominate a focal point through whom the applications for national reserve names will be submitted.
“Only a registered government representative will be able to submit names via the Reserve Name List Portal. It is however incumbent on the relevant government authority to reserve and redeem names within the timeframe set out in the RNL 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 explains.
The default limit will be 100 names, with 20 applications in the offensive names category.
Establishing dotAfrica (or .Africa) as a generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) is the brainchild of African Internet pioneers and the African Union Commission. Its intention is to establish a single domain name that can be used to promote the people, businesses and cultures of Africa on the Internet. After extensive cross-continental consultation, the plan was also endorsed by African ICT ministers.
The official launch of the new dot Africa gTLD is expected to take place in March 2014. The dot Africa Reserved Names Policy portal may be accessed at http://www.africainonespace.org/rnl