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Get set for the .africa gold rush

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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About Craig Wilson

Craig Wilson is an ICT journalist and speaker based in Johannesburg. He is deputy editor at TechCentral, the South African source for technology news, reviews and opinion, and regularly provides insight into the technology industry for radio and television. Email him at , follow @craigwilson on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.