With UN help, Afghanistan gains control of Internet domain name

With UN help, Afghanistan gains control of Internet domain name

With the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Afghanistan has officially planted its flag in cyberspace, gaining legal and technical control of the “dot-af” domain for Afghan websites and email addresses.

"For Afghanistan, this is like reclaiming part of our sovereignty," said Mohammad Masoom Stanakzai, Minister for Communications in Afghanistan's transitional government.

The formal activation yesterday of Afghanistan's new "top level domain," as Internet country codes are known, marks the culmination of a complex international application process supported by UNDP, and the parallel development of new telecommunications links enabling Afghanistan to put the new ".af" domain to immediate use.

More important, Afghan officials noted, it marks a symbolic break with the recent past: under the Taliban regime, use of the Internet was ruthlessly suppressed, with non-governmental use of email services and website punishable by death.

"A modern telecommunications system, including full Internet access, is critical to the recovery and development efforts now being carried out by the Islamic Transitional Government of Afghanistan," said Ercan Murat, director of the UNDP Afghanistan programme. "The UNDP team here is very gratified that we were able to help Afghanistan secure its rights to this essential service."