African Union requests proposals for .africa domain registry

The African Union Commission has sent out an expression of interest (EOI) for companies interested in managing the .africa domain, raising questions over its previous endorsement of Dot Connect Africa (DCA), one of the bidding companies.

The process of selecting the first registrar for .africa has attracted two organizations -- the DCA and the Africa TLD organization (AfTLD).

In a document posted on the AU website, Moctar Yedaly, head of the organizations' information society division, invited interested parties to send their profiles, including their registration certificates, audited financial accounts as well as verifiable experience of registry management in the past three years.

"It is expected that the Africa small and medium-size enterprises will greatly benefit from DotAfrica, as they thrive beyond their local markets to invade the regional and continental marketplace," added Yedaly in the document.

In the EOI document, Yedaly says that the decision to set up the registry follows acknowledgement by the African Union heads of state that .africa will benefit pan-African businesses and organizations, and a request by African ministers for the AU to "set up structures and modalities for implementation of Dot Africa Project."

The EOI has attracted mixed reactions, with the DCA dismissing it as a scheme to manipulate public opinion. The DCA noted that it had already received endorsement from the AU.