Domain Name System in Africa is changing

Internet business in Africa is changing. The Domain Name System is set to undergo substantial changes in the direction of advancement to fully join the international internet community. Over the years, the main supporters of the development and registration of African country code top level domain names have been the Internet Society, Africa Top Level Domain Name Association (AfTLD) and Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). They have been focusing on establishing a platform for the domain name industry across African countries by offering technical support as well as assisting in capacity building. The still existing challenges include sustainability of African domains, adoption of the latest technological tools as well as credibility of domain name registrars.

So far, statistics have shown that the growth and sustainability of African country code domains are very low when compared to other parts of the world. As of June 2012, the number of the internet users in Africa constituted only 7% of internet users worldwide. For comparison, Asia made up for 44,8%. Furthermore, only 15.7% of African population had access to the internet while in North America that number reached 78.6%. The number of internet service providers differs from country to country but generally is quite limited. It is estimated that in Kenya, for example, there are only 65 internet service providers whereas in South Africa there are about 150. The number of secure internet servers in Kenya is 17 (i. e. 0.3 per 1 million people) as compared to 1,104 in South Africa (20.5 per 1 million people). Both countries, however, rely on the internet as a substantial element of the countries’ economic growth.

African domains are important to any business in need of internet presence on the continent. The number one African country selling top level domains is Egypt. In 2010 there were 43,604 domains sold in that country compared to 654 in Gabon. The introduction of a generic top level domain .africa is expected to change the African domain market and attract companies that seek to make their African-based presence known to the world.

It can also be expected that all such problems such as delayed domain registration procedures or frustrations associated with updating information are to undergo a facelift. African internet communities have adopted a plan to introduce automated systems, create communication platforms and make African domain registrations smoother and more reliable. From 12-13 July 2013, the Africa Domain Name System (DNS) Forum will take place in Durham, South Africa gathering DNS experts, policy makers, registries, registrars, registrants and Government representatives from across the African continent. They will discuss trends, challenges, and growth opportunities of the DNS industry. Other topics covered at the forum include plans of action for registries and registrars and legal issues involving cross-border domain registrations. In addition the Forum participants will take a look at ways Governments can get involved in supporting the growth of domain name industry as well as benefits of standardizing accreditation of domain name registrars to attract more registrations from other regions.