The Africa Union (AU) on Monday send out a request for proposal for organisations looking to manage the dotAfrica Top Level Domain name (TLD). The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees allocation of Internet domain names and addresses worldwide will be accepting applications for new generic TLDs (gTLDs) between January 12, 2012, and April 12, 2012, a period which the AU will submit its dotAfrica proposal too.

ICANN is expected to allocate the new gTLDs in 2013. gTLDs exclude country specific TLDs which are issued to countries.

In the request for proposals, the AU states "This request for proposal aims at selecting the best entity based on management and business case proposal, including revenue generation, re-investment into the African continent, and sustainability mechanism to partner with the Africa Union commission in a view to present a technically and economically sound proposal which meets the requirements of the Applicant Guidebook of the coming launch of the ICANN's new round of gTLDs."

AU's deadline for proposal submissions is Friday , December 8 , 2011.

The AU came to a decision to adopt the dotAfrica gTLD in the Olivier Tambo Declaration adopted at an extraordinary Conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa, between 2nd and 5th November 2009. The African Union Ministers in charge of Communication and Information Technologies (CITMC) acknowledged the necessity to "Establish DotAfrica as a continental Top-Level Domain for use by organizations, businesses and individuals with guidance from African Internet agencies".

In the Abuja 2010 Declaration adopted at AU's Third Ordinary Conference (CITMC-3) held in Abuja, Nigeria, from 6 -- 7 August 2010, the Ministers requested the African Union Commission (AUC) to ''Set up the structure and modalities for the Implementation of the dotAfrica project.''

dotAfrica is expected to be adopted as .Africa, .Afrique, .Afrikia and its representation in other languages.

The decision to expand gTLDs goes back to 20th July 2011 when the ICANN board voted to extend the number of gTLDs from the current 22. The new guidelines have raised controversy as they will also allow companies to register their own gTLDs such as .cocacola leading to existence of between 500 and 1000 gTLDs . Applicants for the new gTLD will pay ICANN application fee of $185,000 (approximately KSh17.3 million) while companies will pay about $ 400,000 more in fees (KSh 37.4 million).

At the moment, only two geographical gTLDs exist, .cat for the Catalan language and culture, and .asia for the Asian continent. .eu normally used for the European continent is considered as a country TLD.

More information on the RFP is available on the Africa Union website.