The long-awaited and eagerly anticipated .africa domain extension is expected to be launched in the next few months, according to the ZA Central Registry (ZACR), who also brought us the capetown, .joburg and .durban domain extensions.

The launch of .africa was suspended by ICANN due to an on-going Independent Review Process (IRP) as a result of a competing application but the ZACR bid has now been approved and preparations are underway for the launch.

The expected launch date is early in April 2017 but this date has not yet been confirmed. The launch will start with a 60-day Sunrise Phase during which trade mark holders with validated trade marks, either through the Mark Validation System (MVS) or the TradeMark Clearing House (TMCH), will be permitted to apply for domain names corresponding with their trade marks. Where there are competing applications during this stage, priority will be given to African trade mark registrations.

The Sunrise Phase will be followed by the Early Access Phase, estimated to launch in June 2017, which will run for 4 weeks. This phase is aimed at the registration of premium and generic domain names for which applicants do not have validated trade marks. Any individual may apply for a domain name during this phase. The general availability is expected to launch in early July.