Friday, August 19, 2011

1 web domain for every 10,000 people in Africa? Is Google Serious?

Guest Post by Samuel Ochanji
Google VP Carlo D’Asaro Biondo’s recently made a statement that has reverberated throughout the world wide web in which he stated the "fact" that Africa has only one web domain for every 10,000 people, versus a global average of 94 domains for every 10,000 people.

Stats are very relative and I never dispute stats because stats can be "true" taken in any way. What matters are the variables that are used to arrive at a certain statistic. You can use any measure to arrive at 20 different values on a single measure. Researchers know this pretty well. What I am bound to dispute, are "facts"; because facts must be based on some truths or absolute variables at particiular time. For example, it's a fact that the rate of HIV prevalence in South Africa in 2007 was 18% based on the number of people living with the virus in 2007 and the total population of South Africa in that particular year.

Let's come to domains, how many domains are there for every African or how many Africans for every domain. Again, there's no absolute values because domain names expire every day and domain names are registered every day. These are little variations that sort of  compensate each other so I will not look much into them. Carlo Biondo was referring to web domains; from the knowledge I have gained in the last few years in my use of the web, domains=web domains. So I will assume Mr Biondo was stating the "fact" that there is 1 domain for every 10,000 Africans. Is this correct? Let's try and illustrate why this might be "wrong" using some stats.

According to, Directi's web data portal that tracks over 35,000 Webhosting Companies worldwide, there were just over 220,000 domains hosted by servers in Africa as per last week. This does not take into account those domains owned by Africans and with African content but hosted in servers in the US, Europe and Asia. Given Africa's population of 1 billion or 1.04 billion to be "exact", this alone will halve Mr Biondo's magic number to 4716 Africans for every one "web domain". But this number only considers the gTLDs i.e. .com .org .net .info .biz .travel .museum .coop etc domains.

 It does not take into account the ccTLDs or African country code Top level Domains like .ke .za .ng .ug etc. Most African ccTLD registries do not provide real time registration numbers but from those that do, South Africa alone has close to 700,000 domains registered in .za namespace, Morocco has over 30,000, Kenya has close to 20,000. Factoring in Nigeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Ghana, Algeria, Tanzania, Senegal and other nations with restricted ccTLD registries(excluding .CM and .SO and others) should bring the number close to 850,000-900,000 domain names registered in African cctTLD registries. If we add the 220,000 generic domains hosted on African servers and obviously owned by Africans or African entities, then we have between 1.07-1.10  million domain names in Africa. Therefore there is roughly 1 domain name for every 1000 Africans! Or 10 domains for every 10,000 Africans.

If .SS goes live, expect this number to go to somewhere around 700 Africans for every domain name:) Just a joke!

Mr Biondo's figure is therefore the "actual"  figure multiplied by 10! But of course Mr Biondo's figure can also be proven if he provides us with the definition for "web domains". As I admit, stats are very relative but "fact" is not.

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