Nigeria’s domain name-.ng as economic value addition
AS Nigeria intensifies efforts towards becoming a major economic bloc by year 2020 through various reforms, policies and investments, proper positioning of the country on the Internet space is seen as an added advantage.
Today, Nigeria is home to over 75 million Internet users out of the estimated 180 million populations, making it the largest on the continent. In fact, only last week, Nigeria’s teledencity hits the 100 per cent mark, making it the first in Africa.
About six months ago, Nigeria emerged as the largest economy in Africa, after rebasing its GDP to about $510 billion, with the telecommunications sector referred to as a ‘Star Performer’, due to its immense contributions to the economy.
However, despite the appreciable level Internet usage has witnessed in Nigeria, recognition and acceptance of the Country’s Code Top Level Domain Name (ccTLD), the .ng has remained a major issue.
Domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet. Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS). Any name registered in the DNS is a domain name.
In specifics, the ccTLD is a domain name allocated to a specific country in terms of the DNS tree, by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and is open to having sub-domains below it. Examples include, .ke; .mg; .za; mz; .ca; .co; .uk; .ng, .com; .net, among others.
Reports have it that in 2014, the number of active domains reached 271 million globally. According to Web Technology Surveys, the .com is used by 51.7 per cent of all the global websites. It is followed by long distance from .net with 5.1 per cent; .ru with 4.9 per cent; .org with 4.1 per cent; .uk with2.0 per cent; .jp by 1.9 per cent; .info by 1.2 per cent. The .buz controls 0.8 per cent and .edu has 0.1 of the global emails to its kitty.
Unfortunately, Nigeria’s .ng falls within top-level domains that are used by less than 0.1 per cent of the global websites, according to Web Technology Surveys.
Apart from the poor recognition of .ng, the country may as well be loosing billions of dollars to foreign domain names.
For instance, report has it that the United States generates $600 million yearly from its domain name industry, which is part of the potential of the Internet.
In 2009, Austrian top-level domain name the .AT contributed over E13.5 million to the Austrian economy, with the contribution growing each year. Besides, the likes of Yahoo; Google; Facebook, Twitter; YouTube are making billions of dollars from their domain names
According to Google’s yearly income statement, it generated $23.6 billion in 2009, which translated to $1.9 billion dollars a month.
Similarly, the .com, .uk, .us, and many other domain names in the western world have made huge profits from their domain names; while some domain names have been sold as high as 13 million dollars.
While, it has been projected that with proper policies and adequate awareness, adoption of .ng could fetch the Nigerian economy about N250 million yearly and creates over 50, 000 jobs directly and indirectly, today, it is disheartening to mention that Nigerians, even the about 17 million Small and Medium Scale (SMEs) preferred to use foreign domain names, especially the .com at the expense of the country’s .ng.
Speaking to The Guardian, the President of the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA), the agency in charge of administering domain names in the country, Mrs. Mary Uduma, said the nation still loses billions to the Internet economy.
“Our Internet economy and e-commerce have not started, our Domain Name System (DNS) industry is till at the lowest ebb. “Internet access is a challenge, so for that reason we are losing a lot of money which we would have retained,” she said.
Uduma, who informed that so far about 80, 000 .ng have been registered in Nigeria with about 60, 000 active, said the domain name is the cheapest in the world, at N1, 000 per year.
She said that Nigerians, especially the private sector operators needed to connect to the .ng domain to stem capital flight to other countries whose domain names we patronise and pay huge sums.
She said the growth of .ng domain names at both local and international scene will have the same effect on the economy as the mobile explosion, in that ancillary jobs would be created in advertisement, web designing and hosting, there would be foreign exchange earnings from sale of .ng domain names to foreigners.
Uduma, who linked low adoption in Nigeria to lack of awareness of the domain name business, hinted that the .ng domain name is accepted anywhere in the world and it is the country’s unique identity in the cyberspace, adding that, there are no issues, save for Nigerians to embrace and own the .ng sting as the preferred brand in domain name registration, as well as critical resource for the nation.
Speaking further on what could accrue to the Nigerian economy if adoption increases, Communication and Publicity at NiRA/Lead Strategist at DigitalSENSE Africa, Remmy Nweke, said this depends on the level of domain names sold.
According to him, if there is a record sale of 150, 000 domains on third level at the rate of N1000 to registrars, it could amount to N1.5 million within the period, while the second level can go for about N12, 000 of same value at N1.8 billion.
“Although, there are also premium, which are rarely sold. Then there are auctions as well based on demand for a given name or the registry, NiRA decides to offer a specific domain. So it varies on the variables that could increase or decrease yearly revenue of registry like NiRA depending largely on adoption and marketability”, he stated.
Speaking at NiRA organized forum on the sensitization of the media about .ng in Lagos, last week, the Vice President, Sunday Afolayan said every effort is being channeled to ensure people are acquainted to the workings of the domain name, which include awareness and education.
Afolayan also informed that there has been price slash on adoption to encourage more people, stressing that people should have personal website and emails, not at yahoo or gmail but at their names, reason for the slash to as little as N1000 per year.
According to him, Nigeria is a funny market economically; “if you want things to sell fast, make it scarce and you will see people look for it like never before.”
Speaking on the need to promote adoption in the country, a facilitator at the training, Kenneth Ugbechie, said these include security concerns. According to him, there is need to educate the public on the security issues inherent in domain hijacking and how to ward it off.
Ugbechie said when we promote the DNS in Nigeria, “we are promoting and aiding the effective connection of the country to the World Internet.
Others are that we preserve the country’s unique identity and forestall domain name speculators; it also helps to reduce the traffic load on the DNS servers on a global level.
To further aid adoption, another telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko said: “Rather than registering our emails, website and other Internet presence in foreign domain names, where our Internet presence is hosted abroad, where our information could be tampered with, it would be more beneficial to us as individuals, businesses and as a nation to adopt the .ng domain names,’ he said.
According to him, adopting a Nigeria domain name that is domiciled in the country and managed by NiRA on behalf of the country, would guarantee faster location of such domains on the Web.
He noted that NiRA runs technological infrastructure, which locates a computer on the Internet that hosts a website or e-mail when request is made, send or receive information to or from addresses that end with .ng.
While calling on relevant authorities to sustain enlightenment campaigns on the .ng domain, Uduma said they are hoping that by 2020, adoption of .ng would have hit one million users in the country.
In one of his interviews with The Guardian, the Managing Director of Nigeria’s Internet Exchange Point (IXPN), Muhammed Rudman, said there is need to popularise the .ng domain, “because, for each .com; .net transactions, foreign companies are paid and this results into serious capital flight from the country, ‘but with .ng, the money stays in Nigeria, which invariably contributes to the economy.”