Tuesday, May 31, 2011

African Domain Names: The Story of .RW: Rwanda's 6 year battle for the redelegation of .RW ccTLD

Rwanda has many things in the right place when it comes to the development of its ICT sector and the small Central African nation, land of a thousand hills, has been billed as the next tech hub in Africa, a Singapore for Africa but one thing the country has been struggling to control is its ccTLD, .RW.
 The Rwanda Utility Regulatory Agency (RURA) in partnership with Rwanda Information Communication Technology Association (RICTA) has been working on repatriating the Web domain manage it in Rwanda from the the Belgian based operator DNSAfrica which also operates the ccTLD for the DRC and the authorities in Kigali are getting impatient. In a letter to IANA during the Request for Comments(RFC), Eddy Kayihura, an advisor with the Rwanda Information Communication Technology Association asked IANA to it would only "simplify the process and not add complexity" since Rwanda was putting all the required building blocks in place based on current IANA specifications for TLD re-delegation.

You can read the full  Request for Comments for IANA Functions below:
We, in Rwanda, have not yet managed the repatriate the .RW ccTLD.

Efforts started more than 6 years ago and we were warned by the current operator about the potential lengthy process.

Due to multiple factors, here we are, in 2011, without having succeeded to achieve it.

Though we understand the need to follow a strict process to assure minimal disturbance in service delivery, we believe that the process could be simplified in case the request appears to genuinely satisfy the need of the local community.

We also hope and advocate that should any change occur in the future, it would only simplify the process and not add complexity since we are almost ready in putting all the required building blocks in place based on current specification for TLD re-delegation on the IANA website.

Eddy Kayihura

Kigali, Rwanda

The issue of management of ccTLDs by African countries has been a hot issue as African countries are loudly voicing demands for repatriation of the management of their ccTLDs. It's estimated that only about 10 African countries have registries within their own countries and ICANN has been urging African nations to put their houses in order before initiating the redelegation process. Political stability has also affected the pace of the redelegation process.

African nations should take the issue of the management of their ccTLDs very seriously and invest in homegrown registries instead of relying sometime on some obscure registries based abroad. The country code domains are a crucial part of the African internet infrastructure especially at this time when the continent adds millions of users to the cyberspace and e-commerce becomes the order of the day. They should learn from the experience of North Korea whose ccTLD .kp was shut down for months by some obscure operator in Germany who just disappeared from the scene thus taking off a few hundred websites offline for months!!
Managing their own ccTLDs also allows countries to come up with tailor made marketing programs for their people and allows their people to have an online identity at an affordable cost.

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