Some Domain Name Trends and Predictions for Africa in 2024

January 29, 2024

eddie

News, Press

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Predictions are that the African domain management industry is poised to undergo transformative changes in 2024, driven by technological innovations, market research underpinned by the 2023 Africa Domain Name Industry Study (anticipated for release sometime in 2024)and cultural dynamics. The more people understand the value of an online presence, the more they want their domain name to reflect the cultural identities, values, symbols, language and aspirations that they hold dear.

Individual identities translate inadvertently into a continent’s digital identity, as evidenced by the growing number of .africa domain name adopters. 

Let’s explore these trends in greater detail.

1. Culturally Resonant Domain Names

There’s a growing trend towards using domain names that reflect local presence, languages, culture, and colloquialisms. 

Importance of the .africa TLD

The African continent is so diverse, and having a .africa domain name can be the catalyst that promotes this diversity in a borderless digital space. It aims to promote and preserve many African heritages, traditions, and practices, including cross-cultural exchanges.

Businesses in Africa can also connect more deeply with their audiences, making a .africa domain name more than just a digital address and rather a part of their brand story. Having a .africa domain name that is connected to a certain cultural demographic group may influence consumer choices, especially if the chosen .africa domain name resonates with that cultural group.

The importance of preserving and giving Africa its own digital space to shine globally makes African geographic domain names, such as .africa, .durban, .joburg and .capetown (the latter three collectively referred to as the ZAcities) exciting domain names to adopt in order to cement one’s African pride. 

Geo TLDs and Country-Specific ccTLDs

A geographical top-level domain (geoTLD) corresponds to a geographical or regional area. For instance, .africa represents the entire African continent, and .joburg represents Johannesburg.

Alongside .africa, country-specific or country code Top-level Domains (ccTLDs) like .zw, .ng, .ke, and .za are gaining traction.

GeoTLDs are different from country code top-level domains. ccTLDs are only two characters representing countries, while geoTLDs can represent cities, provinces, territories, continents, and more. Also, ccTLDs are normally only available for registration beyond the second level to the end user, like .co.za, co.ke, etc.

Country-specific and GeoTLDs are becoming popular for African businesses targeting local markets. This trend is particularly visible in major cities where businesses use these TLDs to reinforce their local presence. They offer a sense of local identity and trust, particularly for businesses looking to establish a strong presence in specific African markets.

2. AI-Driven Domain Choices in Africa

Artificial intelligence (AI) is predicted to be a game changer in the .africa and ZAcities’ domain name ecosystems. With access to more data, AI (once implemented) can be used to predict business trends in Africa and assist commercial and other entities in making better decisions regarding their online identities.

AI tools, attuned to African languages and cultural nuances, are aiding in crafting relevant and memorable domain names, ensuring that brands stand out in a crowded digital landscape. Apart from this, AI can create operational efficiencies by transforming how customer services are delivered by introducing chatbots and virtual assistants. These can enhance the customer experience and build brand loyalty. In addition, AI can be used to conduct predictive pricing, domain name registration analysis and trends, and enhance domain name security features to mitigate against cyber threats such as phishing, domain name hijacking and spoofing acts. Exciting opportunities exist for techies to wrap their minds around such innovations within their registry and registrar platforms.

 

3. Brands and Generic Domain Names Intended to Showcase African Innovation

 Predictions are that African businesses and other organisations will also experiment and adopt generic top-level domains (gTLDs), such as .shop, .bank, .edu, .gov domain name extensions, as well as brand domain names such as .dangote or .mpesa or .egyptair (latter used for illustrative purposes only) so that they can showcase niche domain names that align with their specific industry or brand value. 

From a brand protection perspective, registrars and registries, including those responsible for administering the ZAcities and .africa TLD are looking to introduce domain name blocking services as a value-added service to provide brand owners with more options to register variations of their brand domain names in a more seamless manner. 

Watch this space for more details on the latter initiative!

4. Enhanced Cybersecurity Measures

AI can revolutionise the way in which you protect your .africa or ZAcities domain name, given global concerns around data privacy and security. At the .africa and ZAcities’ registry level, a number of initiatives are already in place to mitigate against cybersecurity threats. 

A domain name registration usually contains what is called personally identifiable information, such as the registrant’s name, email address and phone number for example. However, a registrant’s personally identifiable information cannot be displayed on a public ‘whois’ platform and for this reason, the .africa and ZAcities registry operator applies data redaction policies. These policies allow domain name proxy services – that keep a registrant’s information protected from threats – the ability to facilitate a formal request for data access should a third party want access to a registrant’s information. 

These efforts will be continuously reviewed and intensified to ensure that the registrants’ and other connected parties’ interests in .africa and ZAcities domain names are protected as much as possible. 

5. Leveraging Blockchain Technologies in the DNS 

Traditional domain name management systems are based on a highly centralised, hierarchical structure of servers, whilst blockchain technology is founded on a decentralised peer-to-peer network of computers that do not require the involvement of an intermediary. While there is a growing interest in how blockchain technology can be leveraged for domain name registration, security, and domain name transactions using cryptocurrencies and other derivatives in Africa, it could also disrupt the domain name industry.

Unlike traditional domain names, blockchain domains are not part of the Domain Name System (DNS). They are essentially domain names created on a distributed ledger technology, such as a blockchain. These types of domains are also referred to as “NFT domains”, “decentralised domain names”, or “crypto domains”.

6. Optimised Domain Naming Strategies

Search Engine Optimisation

With the increasing competition online, African businesses are adopting SEO-friendly .africa domain names. This includes using relevant keywords and ensuring the domain name accurately reflects the company and its offerings.

Voice-Search Optimisation

With the increasing use and accessibility to mobile internet across the African continent, voice search is becoming a significant factor in domain strategy.

Businesses worldwide are optimising their domains for voice search. In Africa, voice search ensures compatibility with natural, spoken phrases common in African dialects. 

7. Advanced Domain Analysis Tools

African-developed domain analysis tools are helping businesses make informed decisions about their online presence. Some of these decisions include the consideration of local market trends and consumer behaviour.

E-commerce Growth and Domain Strategy

Over the past few years, the African continent has witnessed significant growth in the e-commerce industry.

As more and more businesses move online to reach a wider customer base, they are now more focused on securing domain names that are relevant to their business and easy to remember. This approach aims to build a strong brand image and increase customer trust.

The future of e-commerce in Africa is bright, with predictions of continued growth. As digital infrastructure improves, businesses select .africa domains that are short, memorable, and reflective of their brand, facilitating easier customer access and trust.

Setting the Trend with .africa

The .africa domain name will play a pivotal role in defining the continent’s digital identity in 2024.

With its unique blend of cultural relevance, technological advancement, and security, .africa is more than just a domain name; it’s a statement of African online sovereignty and a beacon for Africa’s bright future.

Post by Edwan