There were court cases to determine who would be the registry to operate the .africa new gTLD, and they may not be finished yet, but ICANN was finally able to delegate .africa in February. The registry, ZA Central Registry, was ready when the announcement came, and were quickly able to launch the Sunrise period on 4 April.
From 4 April to 2 June, the Sunrise period runs for rights holders who have registered their trademarks with the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) or Mark Validation System (MVS). The MVS is an alternative way for trademark holders to register their .africa domain names and to monitor similar and infringing trademarks.
Following the Sunrise period will be the Landrush phase, which will be divided up into 4 phases of 5 days each, with the first commencing on 5 June and then on the following 3 Mondays in June. While the Landrush phase hasn’t been explained, it has been reported that auctions may feature, and it will be available to anyone, anywhere through registrars such as Brandshelter.
And then on 4 July General Availability, again for anyone, anywhere, commences in 3 phases, with registration fee reductions occurring at the beginning of each period. The first GA period runs for 28 days. The second GA will run from 2 August for 333 days and then the final price reduction and final but ongoing GA period will commence on 1 July, with this being the ongoing registration fee.
There is also a Pioneer Programme underway, with the registry accepting applications from potential registrants for participation. The idea of the Pioneer Programme is to drive awareness of .africa. Successful applicants will see their domain names delegated on 2 June and there will be no registration fee for the first 12 months.