Friday, August 12, 2011

"Virtual Oil": South Sudan Sitting on a Domain gold mine

South Sudan is a relatively new nation with a non-existent internet infrastructure but it has recently acquired one internet resource that every web user in world is coveting, its ccTLD or country code Top Level Domain. The ISO recently assigned .SS as the 3166-1 country code South Sudan which means IANA, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority will assign the .SS code to South Sudan for use as its country code Top Level Domain name.

Already there is a buzz in the cyberspace on the availability of these nifty new domains. Web users are already buzzing about future .ss domains with some hoping that the .SS namespace will be opened to the global internet community and not restricted like that of most African nations. African nations exercise very stringent regulation along with exorbitant costs in the management of ccTLDs which has resulted in very pitiful registration numbers. Countries like Guinea have less than 100 domains registered in the .GN ccTLD namespace.

The South Sudan internet penetration rate cannot sustain a viable registry and an online internet economy in the SS namespace and therefore the .SS registry cannot rely on S.Sudanese users alone. It would be wise if they looked outward towards the global internet community that's currently salivating for the .ss domain names and open up the namespace to global internet users. Of course the SS registry can reserve tens of thousands domain names of social and political relevance to the country's society, politics and history for its own use and then leave the rest of the "virtual oil" to the global internet community. The country's  registry can also reserve the best premium domain names which the imaginative Twitter users have been suggesting to me and sell them for a killer price. Names like a.ss bli.ss swi.ss he.ss che.ss could fetch thousands of dollars which can be reinvested into the development of the internet infrastructure in South Sudan.

It's upto the South Sudanese to learn from the mistakes of the other African countries and convert this new virtual oil into a leading source of foreign exchange. With the right registry management and the right pricing, .SS could fetch upwards of $5 million per annum from auction of premium names and domain name registration; cash I believe, South Sudan needs very urgently.