The recent crash in the cost of .ng domain name by NiRA, coupled with the enforcement of the use of .ng as the official communication channel for all MDAs by the federal government, are all geared towards populating .ng domain name in Nigeria, writes Emma Okonji
The Federal Executive Council (FEC), this year, 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, with a bid to enforce the use of .ng domain name across all MDAs of government.
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 name.
Should it be regarded as ignorance or sheer sabotage that a diplomat for example, would issue a call card which contains a .com, or .co.uk, 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 full compliance to the new policy.
It is surprising 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. The statistics baffles many Nigerians, especially when compared with the number of .co.za domains, which is the domain name for South Africa that has been pushed out to the world, and it is in full use in South Africa and in many other African countries.
Most analysts have raised questions as to why many Nigerians have refused to use .ng domains. Who is to blame? Is it that Nigerians are
thinking that the. ng is not good enough or they just do not understand its importance to national brand? Nigerians probably need some sort of government policies to make it somewhat compulsory for individuals and businesses to adopt the use of .ng domain name.
One of the analysts who is a registrar of .ng domain name, said: “If you try to convince some people to switch to .ng, a vast majority of the 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.
According to the registrar, “It is important to stress that the foundation of any 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 domain nam. 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.”
Addressing the many benefits of the adoption and use of .ng domain name, most analysts are of the view that .ng domain name, which is Nigeria’s identity in the cyberspace, will enhance global visibility of local businesses and at the same time, deepen local content development in Nigeria.
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.
Another registrar who highlighted the benefits of .ng domain name, said: “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 for the website will, over time, lead to an increase in local traffic.”
The registrar added: “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.”
The ever increasing foreign exchange rate has hiked the cost of hosting services with multi-tenant cloud computing, using the Virtual Private Server (VPS) and the same goes for .com domain names, but analysts are of the view that using the .ng range of domains will contribute to saving the scarce forex (FX).
A lot of developers used to be happy paying for their Virtual Private Server but not anymore because of the high cost of VPS, occasioned by high foreign exchange rate.
Google, a global brand with local presence in Nigeria, owns both .com.ng as well as .ng, an example of a forward looking global company that plays local to gain the attention of millions of people in any market where it operates. Google would rather serve every online searcher with results using google.com.ng when they search for stuff within Nigeria. Even when searches done from outside of Nigeria, in a place like Ghana, using the same device, Google will still provide the results via google.com.ng
Local Content Development
With increase in local content development across all sectors of the Nigerian economy, more businesses are likely to spring up. However, considering the report by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), which stated that the number of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the country dropped by about two million between 2017 and 2021, it became very obvious that Nigeria has no other choice than to grow its local content and intensify the promotion of local brands online.
The 2021 MSME survey revealed that there were 39 million MSMEs in Nigeria, which is a significant drop from the 41 million reported in the 2017 survey report.
Analysts are therefore of the strong opinion that Nigerians, including government across all levels must intensify action in the development of local content by supporting the growth of indigenous firms and companies.
“Just imagine what will happen if only one per cent of the reported over 211 million Nigerians, according to MacroTrends statistics, decides to own .ng domain name. That will be over 21 million domain names, which would eventually serve as the foundation for businesses and ventures on the world wide web. Would that not further strengthen the Nigerian brand and dignify her on the Internet?” one of the analysts asked.
Giving the implications of the deliberate refusal of some Nigerians to adopt and use the .ng domain name, analysts who analysed the business and economic implications, said all hands must be on deck to drive the adoption and the use of the .ng domain, in order to complement the efforts of NiRA.