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Call for Public Comment on the Draft 2016 African Domain Name System Market Study

Today, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced a call for public comment on the draft 2016 African Domain Name System Market Study, which was commissioned in March 2016 and managed by the South African Communications Forum (SACF) for ICANN.

The goal of the study is to identify and define the strengths and weaknesses in the African DNS industry ecosystem, and develop recommendations on how to advance the industry by bringing it closer to available opportunities.

This study aims to document relevant data points and provide further analytical findings, in order to enable ICANN and players in the African names space to develop a roadmap on the scope of needs and priorities for the development and growth of both "ccTLDs and gTLDs" (the DNS market) in Africa. Its outcomes will feed into plans to establish up an observatory that will continuously monitor the growth, development and emerging needs of the DNS market in Africa.

This initiative is a direct outcome of the ICANN Africa Engagement Strategy.

The draft 2016 African Domain Name System Market Study report, which is now open for comments, can be found here [PDF, 5.86 MB]. Comments are due by Friday May 5, 2017 at 23.59 UTC. Please send all comments by email to

The initial report will be discussed during ICANN58 in Copenhagen, on Monday March 13, 2017 at 12:45pm - 2:00pm UTC at Hall C1.3 (ALAC). More information can be found here.


Over 4 years ago, the African community met in Prague (ICANN44) for a historic meeting chaired by Dr. Steve Crocker and then-incoming President and CEO Fadi Chehadé. The outcome was a new approach to Africa, focused on:

  • Developing a framework for ICANN's Africa strategy;
  • Supporting stronger ICANN presence in Africa;
  • Increasing Africa's participation within ICANN.

The meeting also resulted in the formation of a volunteer, nine-member Africa Strategy Working Group (ASWG), whose mission was to develop an ICANN strategy for the region. The group was motivated by the realization that Africa lacked commensurate participation in the ICANN ecosystem. This group developed the first 2012 – 2015 Africa Strategic Plan.

An updated version of the strategy was released in November 2014, at the end of a meeting attended by representatives from AFNOG, AFRINIC, AFTLD, GAC, AFRALO, AFICTA, NEPAD and the African Registrars Association.

One of the key projects identified in the revised 2016-2020 ICANN Africa Strategic Plan was to conduct a study on the business feasibility of the growing DNS industry in Africa (Page 16, Strategic Objective 15), and to commission the creation of an observatory to develop new indices for DNS industry growth within Africa (page 17, strategic Objective 16). This draft study is part of the ongoing efforts to implement these objectives and further the domain name market is Africa, in partnership with you, our community.

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Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."