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Can NiRA drum up enough support for .ng?

Nigeria , 12 May 2016

Can NiRA drum up enough support for .ng?

Almost six years after it started promoting the country code top level domain (ccTLD), .ng, the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) continues to push for an increase in the uptake of the domain name – with minimal results.

Statistics sourced from the NiRA website state and reported in local media state that the number of registered domain names in the country in January stood at approximately 60 000.

In 2011, the former Director-General of the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) said if properly boosted, .ng, which is a national resource, will make businesses grow.

Years later, the former President of the Information Technology Association of Nigeria, ITAN Dr. Jimson Olufuye attributed the low acceptance of Nigeria's domain name .ng among Nigerians and investors to lack of policy framework.

Two years later, Olufuye's concerns remain largely unaddressed yet NiRA claims it is making progress and the adoption of the domain names is not as comparatively low as many suggest it is.

In this exclusive interview, the president of the association, Sunday Folayan, sheds more light on the current state of Nigeria's ccTLD, local data hosting and cyber safety.

PAUL ADEPOJU: I know NiRA would love more businesses and individuals in Nigeria to embrace .ng domain names. but don't you think the quality of local hosting companies could be a deterrent?

SUNDAY FOLAYAN: Not at all. You can still register your .ng domain name, and not host in Nigeria. Registering the name is a different step that has no relationship to where you host. Just like drawing an architectural drawing of your house can be built anywhere. As soon as there is a mass of registered names, local hosting companies will step up their game, and of course, the story will be better. In summary, the current state of local hosting is not a deterrent to registering names.

PAUL ADEPOJU: So how can we convince people to host locally when they can host elsewhere at lower costs?

SUNDAY FOLAYAN: It is not totally true that people can host elsewhere at lower costs. Business and lower costs is about critical mass. Nigerians tend to assume that the more foreign, the better. There are very many local hosting companies in Nigeria, offering good services at affordable costs. For those hosts whose services need improvement, the start point is for the registrants to demand good and written service level agreements. Without proper service level agreements, local hosts will not improve. It is a role for all Nigerians.

PAUL ADEPOJU: What are the major reasons why the uptake of the .ng domain name is yet to reach levels of adoption many in the industry expected it to be when they were launched?

SUNDAY FOLAYAN: The current uptake of .ng domains is not really far from the industry average for other similar economies to Nigeria. However, the rate will have been higher, but for the following reasons. Some Nigerians think that .com is more superior to .ng and so, will rather register their domains under the generic classifications such as .com, .org etc.

Sometimes, the decisions are made by IT consultants who are already set in their ways and recommendations. Some expect to register second level .ng names, but want to pay third level amounts like they will pay for and the like. Some Nigerians are not aware that NIRA now manages the TLD. Some are aware, but still not trust NIRA to do a good job.

A lot of Nigerians leave their hosting company to register their names. If the hosting company is not Nigerians, they will not consider registering a .ng name for such clients. Some people believe since they already have a domain name like a .com for their website, they do not need another name that is .ng that can be redirected to their existing domain. Of course, it is more reasonable to also have a .ng domain for such users.

PAUL ADEPOJU: What creative ways are you using to promote it?

SUNDAY FOLAYAN:  NIRA has taken on the task of dispelling most of these false assumptions by extensive consultations with stakeholders and different segments of the economy, to ensure that the various issues are properly identified and addressed;

Mounting a very comprehensive Social Media campaign to educate Nigerians on .ng and the possibilities; Introduction of the NIRA Academy to train as many people in the DNS value chain to better understand the role of NIRA.

We also have periodic media colleges to help re-orient journalists and many other influencers on the possibilities with .ng;

Reasonable and competitive pricing to make the domain name affordable, while ensuring that the NIRA operational costs are covered. We send periodic newsletter that aims to engage different segments of the economy, to open new opportunities.

PAUL ADEPOJU: What is NiRA doing to ensure that locally provided internet services, including hosting, are up to international standards?

SUNDAY FOLAYAN: Apart from providing training opportunities to relevant stakeholder groups that will contribute directly to NIRA's business success, It is also looking at ways of boosting local content, by sponsoring the annual Local Internet Content Forum (LICF) and of course helping the hosting companies come together, to drive down the cost of hosting locally, and also enhancing the service quality of those companies that are into hosting services.

PAUL ADEPOJU: What is your perspective on internet safety and regulation in Nigeria?

SUNDAY FOLAYAN: Child online protection is important, so is the need to ensure that people can find the right information at the right time for the right price. There should be minimum regulation of the Internet so as not to kill innovation and the necessary morale and incentive needed to provide the next million jobs in Nigeria. Techpreneurs are very active all over the world, and Nigeria is not an exception. We continue to see very many brilliant ideas coming from young men and women who were born and bred within the knowledge age. As Nigeria joins the world to move its businesses online, it is heartwarming that we now have a Cybercrime act, and the internet can be made a safer place to live in, and work in Nigeria.

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