Mauritius Finally Gets Back .mu Domain

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It was a battle that lasted for more then a decade but at long last the Mauritian government has the .mu Top level Domain (TLD) back under government control.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed last week between the .mu TLD manager, Yan Kwok of Internet Direct, and the Information & Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) of Mauritius. With the agreement, the small independent developing state off the east coast of Madagascar becomes the second African country to win back its Top Level Domain (TLD). The process went faster only for South Africa.

"It is a big step for the history of our country," said Asraf Dulul, minister of Information & Communication technologies. "If Mauritius wants to emerge as a regional platform, it is of uttermost importance that we own and manage our TLD by ourselves," Dulul said.

Mauritius is not the only country that has struggled to manage its own TLD. In Africa, there's a general move for countries to take control of their TLDs.

The issue caused heated debate at the Africa Telecommunications Union meeting held in Mauritius in March. It was attended by regulators and country code TLD managers. Some delegates suggested that African countries did not have the expertise or infrastructure to manage their own ccTLDs.

The forum was a catalyst for the .mu redelegation and it allowed policy makers and regulators from 20 African countries to meet with representatives of different organizations to discuss the best approach to ccTLD administration.

The struggle has been hard for Mauritius. In 1995 the .mu ccTLD was delegated by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority to Internet Direct Ltd. But Mauritius and Internet Direct were not able to reach agreement until last week.

Now, the Mauritian government intends to confer the management of its TLD to a shared registry model, where the policy, technical and commercial functions are separated. An independent multistakeholder organization represented by government, civil society, private sector, national operators, academia and nongovernmental organizations will be set up to handle policy issues. The commercial aspect will be entrusted to a pool of registrars to allow fair competition.

Technical stability of the ccTLD will be left in the hands of the current registry operator, Internet Direct Ltd. "It has the technical expertise and demonstrated proven competence and experience in managing a TLD," explains an official at the ministry.

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