Friday, September 16, 2011

"Switchto.NG" : Nigeria's .NG ccTLD Domain marketing Campaign Launched

 Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), managers of Nigeria’s country code Top Level Domain, .ng in collaboration with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) recently organized a great workshop to increase the adoption of the .NG domain names particularly, amongst Nigerians.

This month I have been focusing my efforts in illustrating the various ccTLD marketing/branding initiatives from across the world that can be adopted by African ccTLD registries to increase the adoption of the local ccTLD domain names. The NIRA effort comes just at the right time.

According to NIRA, "the Campaign is an affirmative action on the value of .ng, and why the Nigerian government, Ministries, Departments and Agencies should adopt the Nigerian identity.  It is a call to Nigerian institutions, industries, SMES, individuals to switch to .ng." The objectives of the Switchto .NG Campaign are :

  • Educate the public on the existence of the .ng (country code Top Level Domain) as Nigeria's identity on the internet.
  • Provide a forum for Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies to understand the policies and procedures for registration of domains
  • Provide an opportunity for NiRA accredited registrars who can provide information for domain name registration to engage with the public
  • Promote the use of .ng domains across the six geo-politial zones of Nigeria
  • Provide information on the Infrastructure and technical overview of managing the .ng domain system.
  • Allow exchange of information between the ICT stakeholders both public and private.
  • Discuss Cybersecurity as it relates to Internet email scam due to use of non .ng domiciled domain name extension
I had the chance to look at the Switchto.NG Presentation and I must say it's quite impressive.NIRA wants to register over 250,000 domain names in the .NG namespace which is expected to contribute an estimated N250million Naira to the Nigerian economy. Given that Nigeria has a population of over 150 million people with over 40 million internet users, this is a very realistic target. According to a Nigerian source, there are about 17,000 domain names registered in the namespace alone, which being the second level domain for commercial enterprises, will account for the vast majority of domain name registrations under the .NG namespace.

 Innovative marketing, world-class registry services and pricing will play a key role in endearing the .NG domains to Nigerian businesses, organizations and people but there are some other factors beyond NIRA's and Nigeria's control. The so called perception or trust issues.

 The activities of a few Nigerian 419 scammers has put a dent on the global image of the entire nation as far as trust in the internet marketplace is concerned. Many online transaction tools have blocked transactions from IPs originating from Nigeria. Many internet users are not likely to trust websites with .NG TLD due to online consumer awareness of Nigeria as the source of scams. It will take some time for NIRA to build the trust required that will shield .NG registrants from unfair perceptions or misinformation. The internet industry needs to trust Nigeria because Nigeria, with such advantageous demographics and rapid developments in broadband and access, will be the inevitable key player in the internet marketplace in Africa and also globally.

NIRA must also deal with competition from .com and ironically domains(someone please explain to me why Nigerians love these domains? Is it the large Nigerian community in the UK or the other thing that I would not like to mention) .

Other problems identified by NIRA that might hinder the uptake of .NG domains include ignorance and lack of awareness by the public of the .NG Brand; perceived instability of the .NG domain name system, the dearth of funding for the Nigerian DNS infrastructure, inadequate government mandate and the permissiveness of aberrations(the Nigerian Government appears indifferent  to its officials using yahoo, Gmail, .com, for officials transactions).

NIRA is also capitalizing on the domain hacks in the .NG namespace-the fact that there are many English words that end in .ng such as , boost .NG domain name registrations amongst Domainers and domain hackers. The same strategy was employed by Libya's .LY namespace.

One thing that NIRA has conveniently left out is pricing. Any discounts, promotions, price reductions? Price is a key barrier to entry in the adoption of many ccTLD domains in Africa, even amongst the well performing ccTLD registries like Kenya's .KE. But on a positive note, if NIRA gets the Switchto.NG campaign right and with Kenya and South Africa's registries having taken off, the future looks brighter for Africa's DNS industry. Let's get more Africans on African Domains :) (ignore the pun)

You can view the presentation by NIRA Chief Operating Officer Ope Odusan on Slideshare here(Sorry Ope, I uploaded this without your permission) Also available below:

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