Friday, December 9, 2011

Low Numbers of .NG Domain Registrations

Nigeria will be offering an iPad 2 to any .NG Accredited Registrar who registers up to 5000 domains in a month. Nigeria recently launched a Switchto.ng campaign to boost .NG domain uptake and the registrations have been picking up at a healthy rate. According to Nigeria Internet Registration Association(NIRA) COO, the low uptake  is due to low level of awareness. This is definitely true as a .com.ng domains cost only $9.30 as opposed to the costly .co.ke domains which could cost anything from $22 to $40 depending on the domain registrar. (Link: Cheapest Domain Registrars in Kenya) . Another issue could be businesses avoiding a distinct Nigerian identity on the internet in branding online profiles due to the perception that they will be associated with fraud or scams(in the past, Nigeria plus Internet has been an explosive mix with past 419 scams).

In fact elsewhere in the world, many internet users now associate the whole country with scam and some have blocked Nigerian IPs or removed Nigeria from drop down shopping menu in eCommerce websites but there's no risk in the .NG domain namespace. It's one of the safest in Africa and you can't compare it to the scammy malware-filled .CM domain namespace for Cameroon. So Nigerians must begin trusting and buying their domains, charity begins at home. I  always see Nigerian companies choosing .COM, .ORG or .NET generic TLDs but adding an NG in the domain name for example vanguardngr.com ngrguardiannews.com punchng.com thenationonlineng.net  etc which is rather silly.

The number of .NG domains registered is only 40,000 in a country with over 40 million internet users. Clearly something is  amiss. Same situation obtains in Kenya and several African countries. African ccTLDs have never adopted a good commercial and marketing model  to increase uptake of the domains, so Africans are forced to register the .com .net .org domains. In Europe, the reverse is actually true.

Since many Africa ccTLDs are members of ccNSO, why not learn from best practices from elsewhere in the world, lower the prices, offer the right promotions and increase uptake of their domains? Domains are a right, not a privilege and Africans should be able to acquire country code domains at a low cost, since they are good for local search.

Many ccTLDs have refused to embrace change, even in the face of approaching new gTLDs. Hopefully, .africa will solve Africa;'s domain problem for once and for all.

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