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Branding Africa with a new domain

October 17th, 2007 Posted in Business, General, Technology, Travel

As the the world goes online by the millions, the possibilities for domain names grows. The internet naming governing body, ICAAN, has been doing a good job so far of keeping up with the demands of online activity and creating standard practices. But while ICAAN considers the creation of non-english domains, Andrew Mack asks, “In a world of .com and .org, why not .Africa?”. Andrew raises a good point as the African continent attempts to attract investment; what better way to reach as many people as possible than organizing around a similar domain. From a business and tourism stand point I can see the .africa domain working as it will help foreign consumers identify services available within countries on the content. Imagine if there was a www.tourism.tz.africa for Tanzanian tourism information instead of the current www.tanzaniatouristboard.com. As Andrew points out, many southern African businesses have currently adopted the .za domain in an attempt to create an association with the strong South African economy and brand. But why not eliminate the regional segmentation and create a continental domain that would aggregate the strengths of the various economies. A .africa domain will also allow the centralization of many African content, business or otherwise, and more accurately reflect the size and depth of content about the continent strengthening the Africa’s brand image. So what do you think? What are the pros or cons of a .africa domain? Would you change your domain? Read more about the .africa efforts at www.dotafrica.blogspot.com.

  • Robbie Honerkamp

    I’m just an abroni, but I’m skeptical. I think the efforts that will go into getting a .africa TLD are great, and the end results will be small. That being said, I’m also still skeptical about many (most, actually) of the other TLDs that have been approved (.info, etc). But I’m a (relatively) old Internet geek, and I’m just set in my ways.

    If the people who are pushing hard for .africa would take those efforts and put them into something more worthwhile such as maintaining Wikipedia pages about their countries (to make sure the world has access to plenty of accurate information about their homelands) or working to develop local Internet content (applicable to their city/country/region or in a native language) I think Africa would be so much better off in the long run.

    In short, I think .africa is a well meaning but ultimately empty effort. But that’s just my two cedis. :-)

  • http://www.annansi.com Kofi

    Thanks for your comment Robbie.

    I certainly agree with the alternatives you indicate. I just fear that though something like a wikipedia page is a great effort, the effect of doing so might be lost on many African governmental agencies. Unfortunately many African governments are just beginning to understand the possibilities of using the internet to brand and spread a message. While many of us are experts at the benefits of online efforts, I just don’t see us being able to convince many African governments that it’s a better idea.

    What points do you think can be used to convince them to focus more on creating their own content instead of going along with a centralized domain effort?

  • http://www.domainbits.com/ Jeff

    Dot Africa sounds well intentioned, and probably looks good on paper. But there are a number of problems with it. A couple of the more important ones:
    * fails to reflect the cultural diversity of the continent – people there don’t view themeselves as part of some pan-African culture
    * takes an English-centric view – “Africa” is an English word and not the language a large number of people in Africa use as their first language

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