ICANN and its global partners have embarked on a domain name business exchange program aimed at jump-starting Africa's online business.

The Africa DNS Business Exchange Programme will expose registrars and registries to more developed operations in Asia and Europe, through a 10-day agenda. Six ICANN accredited registrars are the target -- Kheweul, Genious Communication, Diamatrix, Ghana.com, Afriregister and Web4Africa.

"The first phase involves a pilot group selected from the current -ICANN, accredited registrars with the aim of broadening the programme to make it available for other registrars and registries in Africa," ICANN said in a blog post. "The outcome will be assessed and built on to develop the programme  further internally and alongside potential partners to ensure sustainability and longevity of  the project."

Africa has a population of 1.2 billion but the total number of domain registrations is 1.2 million, with South Africa accounting for 900,000 under the .za country code Top Level Domain. ICANN hopes the exchange will transform the current ecosystem.

Participants are expected to learn more about business models, technical requirements and DNS business best practices, and replicate the findings in their business. Representatives from Afriregister (Burundi) and Web4Africa (Nigeria) will be based in Singapore at IP Mirror and SGNIC. Representatives from Kheweul, Ghana.com, Genious Communication and Diamatrix will learn from teams at Afilias, an Ireland-based registrar, and AFNIC, the registry for .fr domains.

Investors and entrepreneurs in Africa have cited stringent requirements by ICANN as the main reason for the stunted DNS business growth.

"Going forward I'm hoping that ICANN will loosen the tough requirements in place to be an accredited ICANN Registrar; we do need an affirmative action plan for this continent to grow the DNS Space," said Ali Hussein, a tech entrepreneur in Kenya.