On Pre-registration of .africa(DotAfrica) domain names

It started off as a trickle but now there is an avalanche of websites offering consumers "pre-registration" of new gTLD domain names including .africa. In some quarters, especially for those users unfamiliar with new gTLD process but interested in acquiring a cool domain like ideas.africa or brand.africa this can create a lot of confusion. Many registrars offer domain per-registrations for varying reasons.

Domain pre-registrations are not illegal. At the same time, ICANN has never authorized pre-registrations of any future TLDs. According to the organization, "the reason is simple: There is no way to be sure that a certain string will become a TLD and hence available for domain name registration until all steps in the associated evaluation and delegation processes are successfully completed." So this practice exists in a legal/policy no man's land in the launch of generic top level domains. It's purely speculative as both registrants and registrars assume, optimistically, that the new gTLD will be available soon.

While this can result in abuse, eg companies asking consumers to pay for domain "pre-registrations" long before the applications for new gTLDs have even been submitted to ICANN or evaluations finalized, for the most part in this new gTLD round, the practice has been harmless.

It's important to realize that while pre-registering a domain can be useful especially in cases where registrars frequently keep you updated on the progress of the new gTLDs program, it does not confer any rights on you for the domain name, which is yet to be applied for or delegated anyway. Some registrars offer consumers promises that the domain will be secured for them when they are launched but it's important to realize that this is not guaranteed as domains will be registered on a first come first served basis and you might find yourself competing with other potential registrants for the same domains when the .africa domains are available for registration to all internet users.

Given the risk of confusion or even fraud in a few cases, consumers and companies interested in "pre-registering" .africa domains are advised to carefully look at what is being offered by various domain registrars. In case in doubt or for further clarification on domain pre-registrations, email us at yes2dotafrica[at]dotconnectafrica.org