The Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) recently crashed the price of .NG domain name registration. This push by NiRA came just after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) barred its workers from using generic domains for official communications. The focus of this piece is to look at how these efforts will deepen the digital economy agenda of the nation.
The Federal Executive Council (Nigeria) approved the National Policy on the Nigerian Government Second-Level Domains during its meeting on the 16th of February, 2022 and thus barred its workers from the use of generic domains.
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) followed up with the directive by recently inaugurating a 14-man enforcement committee to monitor the policy implementation across all ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) both at the State and Federal levels.
However, the February 2022 declaration is not the first by the FEC, leaving many people astonished as to why, after six years , the Nigeria government is still advocating for compliance regarding the local .ng domain.
Should it be regarded as ignorance or sheer sabotage that a diplomat for example, would issue a call card which contains a ‘.com, ‘.co.uk’, etc., email address? It may very well be that Nigeria’s top public officials are not aware of the use of gov.ng in their ministries. One is left wondering how long it will be, to obtain 100% compliance to the new policy.
Frankly, it is amazing that a country with 141,971,560 active internet users in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report, has less than 200,000 .ng domains to both local and international owners. Yes, it is a somewhat interesting irony especially when you look at the number of .co.za domains that South Africa has been able to push out to the world.
A lot of questions are raised in different quarters as to why Nigerians have simply refused to use .ng domains? Who is to blame? Is it that we believe .ng is not good enough or we just do not understand its importance to our national brand? We probably need some sort of government policy to make it somewhat compulsory for individuals and businesses as well?
If you try to convince some to switch to .ng a vast majority of people would give all sorts of reasons why they do not use .ng and many of these reasons are simply based on assumptions or hearsay and not facts.
Again, it is important to stress that the foundation of any proper and sustainable development especially in the knowledge economy is the enactment and enforcement of policies. Imagine, if we had a policy that states that every registered company in Nigeria must use .ng? We know this is not an impossible feat, after all the UK and a few other countries are enforcing such policies whether covertly or overtly.
Therefore, the recent moves by the FEC must be effectively implemented especially in support of the digital economy drives. The journey towards economic diversification requires everybody’s commitment to the development of a robust digital economy and in this case demands the use of the Nigerian Second Level Domain by all government-owned websites and official emails.
The private sector is not left out either. Many Nigerian business platforms still struggle with the indulgence of .ng, not aware of the immense benefit it will offer to boost their business outlook both local and international.
First, the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) has the registry for .ng Internet Domain Names and maintains the database of names registered in Nigeria. It has shown commitment towards this cause by the recent reduction in the price of .ng domain name registration by over 40 per cent, and the media efforts to inform the general public.
The benefits are numerous but let us consider a few of them. The .ng is the internet country code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) for Nigeria. Nigeria’s domain name system identifies Nigeria-related websites and is currently available for registration in the following variants, .com.ng, .ng, .org.ng, .net.ng and so on, with a few of them being restricted to Nigerian entities such as .gov.ng, .edu.ng, .sch.ng and so on.
For instance, Nigerian businesses registering .ng domain names have the immediate benefit of being ranked first on search engines when an online search is conducted. Using it and maintaining a good search engine optimisation (SEO) for the website will, over time, lead to an increase in local traffic.
A strong online presence is essential. Your prospective customer will likely conduct a web search when looking for your product or service, and a website that is relatively easy to find and navigate will greatly increase your chances of making a sale, which .ng provides.
Nigeria as a Nation is blessed with this unique domain string known as .ng and we should be proud of this gift of nature. However, we should not stop at appreciating it but owning at least one of the many variants.
Foreign Exchange is Scarce
A lot of developers will tell you they used to be happy paying for their VPS but not anymore because of the ever increasing exchange rate and the same goes for .com domain names! Using the .ng range of domains will contribute to saving the scarce FX.
Why do you think that Google would rather serve you results using google.com.ng when you search for stuff within Nigeria and if you travel to say Ghana and use the same device it will go ahead and serve you results via google.com.gh?
What is even more interesting is that in the case of Nigeria, Google owns both com.ng as well as .ng, an example of a forward looking company.
Local Content Development
With increase in local content, more businesses will be born. If you consider the report by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) that the number of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the country dropped by about two million between 2017 and 2021, then you will appreciate the need to grow local content and intensify the promotion of local brands online.
The 2021 MSME survey revealed that there are 39 million MSMEs in Nigeria, which is a significant drop from the 41 million reported in the 2017 survey report.
Therefore, we must develop local content by supporting what is ours. Just imagine what will happen if only 1% of the reported 211 million+ Nigerians (according to MacroTrends statistics) decide to own .ng, that will be over 2 Million domain names which would eventually serve as the foundation for businesses, ventures and causes on the world wide web.
Would that not further strengthen the Nigerian brand and dignify her on the Internet? This goes to show all hands must be on deck to drive adoption of the use of the .ng domain… Let’s support NiRA’s push!