Businesses operating in Rwanda and other African countries could soon increase their online presence and digital identity following the launch of an Africa web address by the African Union.
The DotAfrica (.africa) domain name was approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN), the body that manages the allocation of web addresses also known as generic Top-Level Domain.
Africa gets its web address just as the Rwanda Information and Communication Technology Association (RICTA), which represents the country’s Internet community, is pushing for registration of the country’s domain which ends with .rw.
Ghislain Nkeramugaba, CEO of RICTA told Rwanda Today, having .africa or .rw domain names is a boost to online brand positioning.
“Having an .rw domain name will enable you to be perceived as locally present,” he said.
“You want people who visit your website to know that you are operating within the continent,” added Mr Nkeramugaba.
Other benefits of having these domain names is better search results online.
“By having an .rw domain name, people who use Google.rw to search for something local, will most likely be directed to your site especially because if you are already indexed, you will appear in the first pages of the search list,” said Mr Nkeramugaba.
Appearing on the first pages of search results increases the number of visits to a site.
Ivan Alia, a web entrepreneur at e-business developers, told Rwanda Today the main benefit of having a country or continent web address is identity.
In 2014, RICTA was given all rights from ICANN to manage Rwanda’s web address, which was formerly managed in Belgium by Frederic Gregoire, a Belgian entrepreneur, under his Swiss-based company NIC Congo – Interpoint.
RICTA said that so far, 2,800 websites have been registered under .rw domain name, which costs Rwf12,000 per year.
South African company ZA Central Registry (ZACR) will be responsible for registering .africa domain names at Rwf15,000 ($18).
According to ZA Central Registry, the .africa domain name will be available from July 4.