Monday, March 12, 2012

A one stop shop for African ccTLDs?

Late last week, I received an email from someone interested in partnering with a registrar who could offer domain registrations for multiple African ccTLDs like .ke .za .ng .zw in one place and I realized that there aren't many players in Africa with that kind of coverage.

To begin with, many African domain  registrars/ISPs will offer domain registrations for their country's ccTLD, several popular gTLDs like .com, .net, .org, .info and some of the popular rebranded ccTLDs like .me .tv .ws. .fm .am It's hard to buy gTLDs like .travel .coop .pro from an African domain reseller/registrar. I think this can be attributed to the fact that many African registrars are actually domain resellers of other global players that are ICANN Accredited. As a result, they can only resell what's available with their suppliers(ICANN Accredited registrars). This lack of flexibility naturally inhibits their capability to offer consumers a wider roster of domain names. Besides, the cost of getting accredited across multiple ccTLDs in Africa is too high for an African ISP.


A good opportunity is in offering local presence services, but for registrants still costly
Since many African ccTLD registries are closed, many registrars offer a local presence service to register domains on behalf of their international clientele and hold it in trust. The local presence service providers will be the administrative, technical and billing contact. In some cases, firms can also contract a law firm to provide this kind of service. So you can imagine the difficulty and cost in setting up such local presence in 20 or more African countries in order to reserve the various ccTLD domains and at the same time put them under a single management!

It's fairly easy to get accredited in countries like Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, Malawi if you have the resources, but lack of resources is a factor which I think might have hindered many African registrars with Pan African dreams. Many of the registrars that now offer a "one stop" shop for African ccTLDs are mostly companies that are not African and the domains are very costly amongst those retailers. I think a way forward would be for African registrars to build cross border partnerships with each other and cross sell domains across various registrars' platforms. This way, African registrars can dominate the ccTLD marketplace by offering registrants variety and competitive pricing thereby not losing out to international registrars who are now encroaching onto their territory after reducing them to "mere" domain resellers in the gTLD marketplace.

Some registrars retailing African ccTLD Domains:
101Domain: Offers Domain Registration for all the countries and territories of Africa except South Sudan(yet to be launched). Costly
Marcaria: Offers up to 40 African ccTLDs. Costly.
Africa Registry: Offers up to 16 African ccTLDs. Quite costly
Instra Corporation: Offers Domain Registration for 13 popular African ccTLDs. Costly.
Lexsynergy: Offers local presence service across multiple African ccTLDs
OpenSRS:Offers up to 8 African ccTLDs now sold via its giant reseller network.

Work can be republished with attribution. Email Us africadomainnames@gmail.com