The African Union (AU) launched the .africa domain name Friday, enabling African businesses, companies and individuals to champion their continent in the cybersphere. Africa now has its own internet domain, 25 years after the World Wide Web was launched.
“With .africa, I would say Africa has finally got its digital identity,” said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the outgoing chair of the AU Commission, AFP reported. Chad’s Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat will replace Dlamini-Zuma at the AU next week.
Internet penetration is far lower in Africa than in other parts of the world. Only 10.7 percent of households in Africa are connected to the internet; by comparison, 82.1 percent of households in Europe are online, according to the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations agency that monitors global broadband usage.
There are more than 300 million domain names in use; the most popular, .com, has 125.8 million registered domains, according to the Council of European National Top-Level Domain Registries (CENTR), a European body monitoring domain names. African countries already have their own individual domains—from .ao for Angola to .zw for Zimbabwe—and the new .africa domain will provide an option for continental-wide sites, akin to the .eu domain in Europe.
The AU has prioritized increasing broadband penetration across the continent, setting a target of boosting it by 10 percent by 2018, according to its Agenda 2063 policy document.