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Country Code Top Level Domain Names in Africa

3 January 2014
By Yaovi AtohounYaovi Atohoun

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Liberia is one of the countries that I visited as part of the outreach program in the implementation of the ICANN strategy for Africa. I was in Monrovia on December 19-20, 2013

I notice today that it is becoming easier to commute by flight within Africa although the cost and also the inevitable stop-over before joining two cities remain the main issues.

During my two days visit in Monrovia I had the opportunity to talk to people from various stakeholder groups. I was privilegedto meet twice the Hon Minister of Post and Telecommunication, Dr. Frederick B. Norkeh 

It is quite interesting that all the stakeholders were focused on the redelegation of the .lr domain name. The reason seems to be different from one to another:

  • It will help us make money
  • It is our identity
  • It is a question of national security
  • It is time to take over the technical management, as human capacity is now available in the country.

I could not say here who is right or not. It is just time for African countries to manage and well manage the ccTLDs for the benefit of the whole Internet community. This requires technical resources, human resources and also a permanent communication between the ccTLD and the local community.

Many people don’t really know about domain names, as they just want to use services on the Internet. They want to send their emails or make their information available online. We are trying to get them understand the basics of domain names. People driving their cars have some basics maintenance knowledge. The same applies for the Internet users. The domain name is what gives a reference to your email address or to your website. Everybody can have his personal domain or use an existing one created by somebody else. It can be generic (.com, .org, …) or country specific (.uk, .bj, .tz, .lr, etc..)

Before joining ICANN, I used to ask many ccTLD managers why it is so expensive to get a domain name under a ccTLD while you can just pay a few dollars to get a generic domain name. I have been told that it is the only way for them to recover their running cost. I have also been told that people should be « patriot » and use their ccTLDs.

Even though I could agree that ccTLDs need money for their operation, I think that a good policy that promotes people’s interest in using a ccTLD will considerably lower the registration cost.

Since the implementation of the African Strategy started in January 2013, ICANN has been assisting the African community to better secure their ccTLDs through the DNSSEC Roadshow project. I believe that this could also help in bringing more confidence to the community. More people would then take the decision to go for a « dot-my_country » with the expectation that emails will circulate and that website will not be down.

I am glad that many african countries with redelegation issues understand that ccTLD affairs are not only for a specific player in the country. A national consensus is the way to go!


Yaovi Atohoun

Yaovi Atohoun

Stakeholder Engagement and Operations Director - Africa
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