JOAHNNESBURG - Registry Africa chief executive Lucky Masilela is on a mission to connect Africa by domaining the undomained through their geographical top-level domain (gTLD) .africa (correct: .africa as in dotAfrica).
The South Africa Communications Forum board member led a team which summited Mount Kilimanjaro and handed back the .africa flag to African Union (AU) chairperson Paul Kagame, during the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the AU in Addis Ababa last month.
In 2014, Registry Africa signed an agreement with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a global institution responsible for domain names to administer the .africa domain name.
A sequence of other gTLD released by ICANN in 2010 which Registry Africa applied for and was granted included .joburg, .capetown and .durban.
However, Registry Africa was required by ICANN to get at least 60 percent of support from Africa’s 55 countries before they could fully run .africa.
Masilela, who is a board director of regional internet registry Afrinic, says the AU endorsed the initiative and on February 11 last year the .africa domain name was “finally delegated to us”.
Today,(SUNDAY) marks their first anniversary since the domain name was made available on the internet space, says Masilela, who was recently honoured as the African ICT Champion by the African ICT Alliance.
He explains however that they have been open for for people to register under .africa since July last year.
“Equally, the .joburg, .durban, and .capetown are available for registration. They have been used by businesses and municipalities and are growing at a steady pace over the few years,” he says.
Masilela has worked for Siemens Telecommunications then later Nokia Siemens Networks for 17 years. He says one of the benefits of .africa is that it is associated with Brand Africa and allows, among numerous things, for the archiving of the continent’s history and the creation of local content. Its benefits, he says, are cultural, social and economical and also provides opportunity for Africa to have its own search engines.
About the .africa flag they handed to Kagame last month, Masilela, who holds a degree in applied physics and electronics engineering from Hampton University, says: “We were handed the flag on July 3, 2017 by former AU chairperson Alpha Conde which they wanted us to take across the continent, to conscientise people about .africa and its benefits. We were told to return the flag on January 28 during the sitting of the heads of state and governments of the AU.”
Masilela and his team left their Midrand offices in January and drove to Botswana, followed by Zimbabwe, then Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
“The African Heads of States were asked to return to their respective countries with a message to encourage further registrations of the .africa domain name for all on the continent. In all the various countries we were engaging with local internet practitioners and country code top-level domain operators. We were welcomed by them in all the border posts,” recalls Masilela, who was involved in reviewing the Electronic Communications Act.
In Tanzania the team summitted Mount Kilimanjaro, and hoisted the .africa flag on the mountain peak. At 5 895 metres, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa.
“Every African should attempt to summit Mt Kilimanjaro as a pilgrimage once in their lifetime. I think the mountain allows you time to reflect and introspect. Some of my colleagues cried when they saw the mountain, cried when they summitted it and still cry when they talk about it,” say Masilela, who describes himself as a team player and a “we” person rather than an “I.”.
- BUSINESS REPORT