It is interesting to note that while Nigeria has over 19 million Facebook users, it has way less than 100,000 .NG domain names. It is, however, common knowledge that the more domain names a country has in the internet, the better it is for her, especially, in the conservation of its scarce foreign reserves.
I recently had a one-on-one with Rev'd Sunday Folayan, the President of the Nigerian Internet Registration Association, NiRA, and the topic of discussion centred on the relevance and importance of the .NG domain name.
Rev'd Folayan said that, to get more businesses to patronise and use the .NG domain name beyond what we currently have, we need to enable more SMEs and MSMEs. This is because by doing that, we will be looking at way over 37 million SMEs and MSMEs.
He, however, said that the prospect of having most SMEs and MSMEs adopting the .NG domain is hampered by factors such as the right education.
According to him, when people have the right education, they will understand how this will add value to the business and their attitude will change.
Other hurdles, he identified, that we must overcome for more people to accept the .NG domain include payment assurance and confidence as well as the ability for them to use the devices as there are some learning curves to overcome in the use of technology.
Rev'd Folayan stated that, out of the over 37 million SMEs in Nigeria today, only about 200,000 of them are ready to GI online now, hence, this becomes the catchment for getting people to register the .NG domains.
He reiterated that, currently, only over 80,000. NG domain names have been registered, so far, stressing that the .NG registry is only second to South Africa in terms of the number of registrants.
Stressing the advantages of using the .NG domain name over the .Com domain name, Rev'd Folayan stated that the one advantage is that a Nigerian business registered on the domain will be found faster online in Nigeria than one registered in the .Com registry. He said that as your business grows, you can then move outside Nigeria and there, you can register under the domain registrars if the countries you opened an office in, e.g., .GH in Ghana or .SL in Sierra Leone, etc. He gave the example of Google that has the google.com, but also has google.com.ng domain in Nigeria which shows to show that geo-locating is very key to a business being found online. He stated that the big players in business understand the importance of tying their business to a locality which helps to ensure more visibility and patronage and the small businesses should take a queue.
Rev'd Folayan emphasized that it is a matter of pride, for instance, for South Africans to use the .ZA domain in South Africa but they are not compelled by any government policy to do so. Likewise, in Germany, practically all businesses use the .DE domain, which has even now crossed the 5 million mark in registry.
The citizens, he maintained, understand importance of being nationalistic and identifying with their national brand. NiRA, he assured, is also not coercing anyone to register the .NG domain, but encourage Nigerian businesses and individuals to take pride in the .NG domain.
On the notion that the .NG domain is expensive, Rev'd Folayan stated that the .NG domain is appropriately priced. He assured that the pricing is based on the long-term sustainability of the registry so that it can continue to offer its services.
Stating what NiRA is doing to solve the challenge of education of users, Rev'd Folayan said that NiRA has established the NiRA Academy which is a DNS Centre of excellence in Nigeria that trains the needed manpower in all spheres related to the business and spheres that NiRA operates such as Engineers, Technicians, Entrepreneurs, Policy makers, Internet governance, law enforcement, etc.
Rev'd Folayan stated that, if everything is okay, by the time the .NG domain registration hits the one million mark, it will mean that between 200,000 and 400,000 businesses would have been created.
He said that NiRA is creating excitement to make this happen by creating the NiRA Awards which is now the flagship for businesses, Entrepreneurs and Startups to showcase what they are doing in the domain name industry. He also stated the modus for price reduction of the .NG domain.
CFA is the Founder, www.CFAtech.ng & Co-producer/Presenter,Tech Trends on Channels Television