The general public can apply for .africa domain names from 4 July. This follows the delegation by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) of the geographic top-level domain to the ZA Central Registry (ZACR) after a protracted legal dispute.
The launch phases of sunrise and land rush will now take place, allowing early registrations, followed by general availability.
The tentative date for the first two phases is 4 April. The sunrise phase will provide an opportunity for intellectual property rights holders to register domains, while the land rush phase will see premium name applicants applying for .africa domains from this date.
General availability should commence on 4 July, and this is when the general public can apply for their .africa domain names, said ZACR CEO Lucky Masilela in a statement.
Website names ending in .africa are set to become hot property in cyberspace as the continents most loved brands snap up their digital presence.
Icann should have handed over control of the .africa domain years ago to ZACR, but the process was delayed following a series of legal challenges by Kenyan-based DotConnectAfrica, which wanted to be the registry operator.
In December, DotConnectAfrica lost a second motion in a Californian court for a preliminary injunction to stop Icanns delegation of the domain to ZACR, effectively ending the legal process.
All attempts to stall the public availability of the .africa geographic top-level domain have failed and its now time to create the next chapter in the .africa story, said Masilela.