Monday, June 20, 2011

New Top-Level Domains Approved by ICANN: Another Window of Opportunity is wide Open for Africa!

ICANN has finally approved the newgTLD program in Singapore as all expected and few doubted it would thus setting in motion the most massive expnsion in the history of the  internet. While industry insiders have expressed big reservations as to the potential of success of the new gTLDs, there is a general agreement that this is a momentous occasion and wherever the road will take us, people are willing to travel in the hope that they might find some gold in the end. Whatever the price , it will be paid as people say.

It's expected that there will be between 300-1000 applications in this round alone so the expansion will be unprecedented but out of these, there is only one string being applied for in relation to africa, the .africa gTLD that's spearheaded by DotConnectAfrica. There was also dotzulu but it doesn't seem like serious bid at this time. So how can Africa benefit from this new internet landrush?

Push .africa through
The .africa campaign by DotConnectAfrica has been the strongest statement yet of Africa's determination to add its name to the DNS root thus giving one billion people an online identity; so instead of the bigwigs at the continental bodies scuttling the whole process, this is the time to give the organization and the initiative some impetus in order to see this pushed to conclusion. It will be a pacesetter, allowing new African gTLD initiatives to sprout based on DotConnectAfrica model. Is anyone listening?

Face the competition head on ,apply for the broad generic strings
African internet entrereneurs in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and other countries where technology is on the march should not shy away from going for such strings as .bank .cafe .realestate etc with global recognition. Go on, take the world on. Technology is on the march in Africa and you have proved your mettle on the continent. Now show the world the stuff that you are made of.

Apply for ethnic domain names
The newgTLD process allows for communities to apply for community gTLDs. So you will soon see strings like .kurd for the Kurdish people,organizations, businesses worldwide ; .irish for the proud Irish people who you will find virtually anywhere in the world; or .cat for the proud Catalan peole! This is the time for African ethnic communities who were lumped together or separated by a treaty in 1884 to create a homeland, on the internet. Let us stop the wars over the barren land , and claim the fertile land on the internet. Let's right the colonial wrongs now and build gTLDs like .zulu .ibo .luo .kikuyu .amhara .tigrea .maasai .xhosa .afrikaner .somali .oromo .Achieve unity through the internet. The land is there for the taking. Just apply a little imagination and some 'little' cash.

Apply for City TLDs
African cities are growing fast and more sophisticated and new gTLDs will be great away for residents, travellers and investors, both foreign and local, to easily locate information and resources on the internet about particular cities. It will be a great away for cities to brand themselves and give their residents more choice in choosing the best and most descriptive domain names for products and services. So this is the time for internet entrepreneurs to work with municipalities to launch such city newTLDs as .nairobi .cairo .rabat .lagos .cape or .capetown .pretoria .accra .addis .dakar and then you will have domain names offering services like www.surfing.cape www.pyramids.cairo The potential is huge, it's there. So let us put our imagination to work and not miss another opportunity as we have missed all the others in the past.

Good luck to all the new gTLD applicants and congratulations to the ICANN Board for a job well done. You are now entering the Wild West of the Web. You might not know what awaits you in the future; don't listen to the naysayers(the .com domainers); match forward with hope and confidence and a good business plan. As Obama says, Yes You Can!

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