Mali says it will become the first African nation to offer its top-level country domain – .ml – for free, with the Dot ML Registry having unveiled the launch schedule for the domains. As reported by Reuters, the .ml domain name will be operated by the Agence des Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication (AGETIC), and free domain names will be available to both national and international users from 15 July 2013. It has been confirmed that general availability of the domain will be preceded by a ‘sunrise’ period – which will begin on 1 May 2013 and last for one month – to ensure the protection of trademark holders. Subsequently, a landrush period – during which time domain names are available for registration to a closed group that do not own a trademark in the name they wish to register – will run from 1 June 2013 until 14 July 2013, with general availability beginning on 15 July 2013.
Hawa Diakite of AGETIC was cited as saying of the plans: ‘Providing free domain names to our own community and to internet users worldwide is a great opportunity for us … Because of the events in the northern part of Mali we have been under a lot of stress lately. We believe that providing free domain names to our internet population will greatly improve the usage and the knowledge of the IT industry in our country.’