The May 2014 commercial launch of dotAfrica is now a fait accompli after the final outstanding paperwork was inked at the 49th meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN) in Singapore yesterday.

The Registry Agreement was signed at the Raffles City Convention Centre in Singapore, by ICANN representative, Akram Atallah (President, Global Domains Division), and ZA Central Registry (ZACR) representatives, Lucky Masilela (CEO) and Neil Dundas (COO).

The ZACR and African Union Commission (AUC) are partners in the drive for Africa to have its own space on the Internet though the dotAfrica geographic Top Level Domain (gTLD).

The agreement outlines the contractual terms according to which the ZACR will launch and administer the dotAfrica gTLD, starting as early as May, this year. “The drive to establish Africa’s own space on the worldwide Web began many years ago, but officially commenced with the submission of a formal application in February 2012. The Singapore agreement signals the morphing of the technical launch phase of dotAfrica into the commercial launch phase.
“We’ve come to the end of the beginning, and the beginning of great things for Africa on the Web,” says Alice Munyua of the AUC and ZACR dotAfrica initiative.

“The finalisation and acceptance of contracting terms from ICANN means nothing can stop the dotAfrica show. In May 2014, the curtains will rise and the first of the dotAfrica domains will become available for application during the initial sunrise and land rush phases. The former will seek to ensure that domain names are made available to applicants who have corresponding trade mark rights, while the latter will see generic premium domain names being made available to the public,” says the ZACR’s Masilela.

The agreement specifies that the Top Level Domain to which it applies is .africa (“dotAfrica”) and states that “ICANN designates Registry Operator (In this case, ZACR) as the registry operator for the TLD”.

The picture shows ZACR’s Lucky Masilele, Akram Atallah, Neil Dundas and Moctar Yedally.