Africa looks set to get its own generic top-level domain, .africa, in 2013 if the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) gives the go-ahead, which looks likely. The creation of the new domain could set off a gold rush and create headaches for businesses wanting to protect their brands.
South African Mike Silber, head of legal and commercial affairs at fibre operator Liquid Telecom, is a board member at ICANN. He says .africa presents a "really interesting opportunity for people on the continent to express their identity through something that is uniquely African".
Getting a .africa domain will by no means be essential for doing business in Africa, but many businesses will want to secure one because of the perceived prestige associated with having a distinctly African domain, Silber says.
But the creation of the new top-level domain will give companies pause for thought. Do they need to register .africa domains? What about cyber squatters purchasing their brands preemptively and holding them to ransom?
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