Exclusive: Nigeria to block government websites on ‘unapproved domain names’, NiRA President says

Exclusive: Nigeria to block government websites on ‘unapproved domain names’, NiRA President says

Exclusive: Nigeria to block government websites on ‘unapproved domain names’, NiRA President says

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  • Blockade of non-compliant websites targets online scammers
  • NiRA to cut prices some of its domain names to drive uptake
  • ‘We want to go to all the states in Nigeria’
  • ‘We want to make Nigeria hub for Internet content in Africa’

Mr Mohamed Rudman, President of Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA), has told Technology Times exclusively government websites not on the country’s .ng domain name are to be blocked under plans to fight cybercrime.

Federal Government of Nigeria rules requires Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to use the .gov.ng domain name string on the country’s .ng country code for their websites, and they have been advised to migrate to the official online real estate of the country.

Rudman, the current CEO of Internet Exchange Point, Nigeria (IXPN), who was last month elected the new President of NiRA, the body manages the .ng Internet domain name of Nigeria, dropped hints of the planned blockade of government websites using unapproved domain names in an interview with Technology Times in Lagos.

Exclusive: Nigeria to block government websites on ‘unapproved domain names’, NiRA President says
Technology Times file photo shows Nigeria portal as seen on June 1 2002

The move against non-compliant government websites, Rudman says, is in line with the drive to use information and communications technology for efficient service delivery and drastically reduce the growing spate of cybercrime within the Nigerian online community.

The NiRA President says that significant progress has been made in the migration of government MDAs to the .gov.ng domain, but believes that more could be done to have them switch to the official domain and bring the activities of scammers to the barest minimum.

“For the cyber security aspect, one of the key things most of these criminals have being taking advantage of is the employment opportunities in Government agencies, ministries and department. They scam people using fake sites”, Rudman told Technology Times.

For government, what we have focused on is to ensure that all government agencies in Nigeria adopt .gov.ng and we are consistent with that and if every single Nigerian is aware that no government agency is running under any other top level domain except .gov.ng, so it will be easier to identify and work with government”, he says.

He further explains that “right now, substantial parts of them are on .gov.ng, but not all. There is inconsistency and this inconsistency is creating confusion. Sometimes back, someone registered firs.com.ng and created a lot of confusion so in terms of scamming we want to ensure all government agencies moves to .gov.ng.”

Rudman further tells Technology Times that to tackle the cybercrime threat, “we want to block all the names of all MDAs under all the other second level domain names so that they are not even available to register to scammers”

Part of his first moves as the NiRA president is to cut prices some of its domain names, including the string name.ng, under a plan to increase uptake of the nation’s online real estate, Rudman says.

Exclusive: Nigeria to block government websites on ‘unapproved domain names’, NiRA President says
Mr Mohamed Rudman, President of Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA).

That move will encourage uptake by the Internet community and also encourage small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to own a .ng domain name, the NiRA President envisions.

“The current number is hovering around 138,000 registered domains and my dream is to see us doubling the number every single year and it’s achievable considering the high penetration of Internet in the country. Nigeria is ranking fourth in the world when it comes to Internet users, the opportunities are there the population is on our side as well, so it is very possible”, Rudman says.

On his watch, NiRA will be undertaking series of project and initiatives and “there are some strategic objectives, there are some staff works we need to do to achieve the 100 per cent increase. One is actually to find the right price for the .ng itself, because if we are competing globally, we have over a thousand different level domains. Considering that every country has a top level domain, so it’s over a thousand options for a new customer, we need to get the pricing right.”

According to him, “when we get the pricing right, that is in terms of affordability, you know Nigerians are sensitive to pricing, when things are too high people tend not to buy. So when we look at the current pricing, it’s a bit on the high side, we are really trying to see how we can make the price more affordable than it is right now and that’s one of the key strategies we trying to do for people to take .ng.”

Rudman says he has an ambitious plan to take the .ng brand “to the grassroots” across Nigeria.”

Exclusive: Nigeria to block government websites on ‘unapproved domain names’, NiRA President says
Mr Muhammad Rudman, CEO of Internet Exchange Point, Nigeria (IXPN), who now doubles as NiRA President

The NIRA President has identified spread of accredited registrars across the six geo political zones “as one of the effective ways to deepen awareness and increase the uptake of .ng domain name in Nigeria.”

To drive the plans forward, NIRA is advocating that its growing base of accredited registrars need to spread their tentacles across the different geopolitical zones in Nigeria.

With proper awareness on the Nigerian domain name, Rudman reckons that local Internet content will not only be grown, but will help save Nigeria the huge capital flight that comes from overdependence on foreign domain platforms imposed on the economy.

“We want expand that market and we want to discover new markets. We want to go to areas like Kano where we don’t have a single registrar there even though with the huge population. We want to go across all the 36 states in Nigeria and that we want to really make it available.”

He believes that affordability is key to realising this top ambition. “First is affordability. Then now making it available by going to all the states. The objective is that within the next three to four years, we should be able to have a registrar in every single state in Nigeria so that every single Nigerian will have the opportunity to have the .ng.”

While assessing the current performance of registrars, he says that “right now, about 20 percent are doing 80 percent of the registration. The idea is how do we strengthen those 20 percent and how do we encourage those 80 percent so that they go more into the business.”

He has more to say about driving the penetration strategies. “I told you earlier that we want to go to all the states in Nigeria. We would collaborate with all the registrars to see how we can go to all the states together to market .ng brand. At the end of the marketing road show, we intend to do in each state, we hope to get at least a reseller from each state.”

Rudman says further that ”we need more registrars and the 66 we currently have are not sufficient for the size of population of our country and substantial parts of these registrars are foreigners. When you look at .za of South Africa, that has over two million registered domains. They have over 530 registrars. So we have an opportunity to grow the numbers of registrars in Nigeria.

We also want to increase the value chain. Right now people just register the .ng and the money stays in Nigeria instead of buying .com, but if you look at it, there is a value chain where there is web designing. If you buy a domain, you have to get a web designer to design the website. You also have to pay the hosting company to host the information on a physical server somewhere and substantial part of the money goes to that hosting  and we want to see that hosting is also residing in Nigeria and the money resides in Nigeria and we don’t have to pay foreign data centres.”

On combining his responsibility as the CEO of Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) and President of NiRA, Rudman has this to say:  “iXPN is a not-for-profit organisation that is pushing for local content, that is, hosting of data locally without leaving the shores of Nigeria. We have gotten significant part of the traffic to be localised.

My position in NiRA is that I really want to push more towards the local hosting. Like I said before, the opportunities for the .ng there is hosting within the value chain. So, we want to see how we come together and bring in all the actors, the registrars, data centre operators, government, iXPN, NiRA to put all our arsenals together to ensure we push for the local hosting and we achieve this when we have economies of scale. That’s why I have the two hats to ensure that I mediate between the two to achieve the strategic position of making Nigeria the hub for Internet content in Africa.”

‘’For the cyber security aspect one of the key things most of these criminals have being taking advantage of is the employment opportunities in Government agencies, ministries and department. They scam people using fake site.

For government, what we have focused on is to ensure that all government agencies in Nigeria adopts gov.ng and we are consistent with that and if every single Nigeria are aware that no government agency is running under any other top level domain except gov.ng so it will be easier to identify and work with government

Right now substantial parts of them are on gov.ng but not all there is inconsistency and this inconsistency is creating confusion. Sometimes back someone registered firs.com.ng and created a lot of confusion so in terms of scamming we want to ensure all government agencies moves to .gov.ng

So therefore we want to block all the names of all MDAs under all the other second level domain name so that they are not even available to register to scammer.’’

Rudman also told Technology Times that part of his first moves as the NiRA president is to cut prices some of its domain names, including the string name.ng, under a plan to increase uptake of the nation’s online real estate.

Rudman believes that the move will encourage uptake by the Internet community and also encourage small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to own a .ng domain name.

‘’The current numbers is hovering around 138,000 registered domains and my dream is to see us doubling the number every single year and its achievable considering the high penetration of internet in the country, Nigeria is ranking fourth in the world when it comes to internet users, the opportunities are there the population is on our side as well so it is very possible.’’

‘’There are series of project and initiative we want to do , there are some strategic objectives there are some staff work we need to do to achieve the 100 percent increase one is actually to find the right price for the .ng itself because if we are competing globally we over a thousand different level domains considering that every country has a top level domain so it’s over a thousand option for a new customer we need to get the pricing right.

When we get the pricing right that is in terms of affordability, you know Nigerians are sensitive to pricing, when things are too high people tend not to buy so when we look at the current pricing it’s a bit on the high side, we are really trying to see how we can make the price more affordable than it is right now and that’s one of the key strategies we trying to do for people to take .ng

Rudman explains further that he has an ambitious plan to take the .ng brand “to the grassroots” across Nigeria

The NIRA president has identified spread of accredited registrant across the six geo political zones “as one of the effective ways to deepen awareness and increase the uptake of .ng domain name in Nigeria.”

To drive the plans forward, NIRA is advocating that its growing base of accredited registrars needs to spread their tentacles across the different geopolitical zones in Nigeria.

With proper awareness on the Nigerian domain name, Rudman  said the local Internet content will not only be grown, but will help save Nigeria the huge capital flight that comes from over-dependence on foreign domain platforms imposed on the economy.

‘’We want expand that market and we want to discover new market we want to go to areas like Kano where we don’t have a single registrar there even though with the huge population, we want to go across all the 36 states in Nigeria and that we want to really make it available

Exclusive: Nigeria to block government websites on ‘unapproved domain names’, NiRA President says
Mr Mohamed Rudman, President of Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA) in middle, with Mr Foluso Busari, Executive Director, Technology Times, on the left, and Mr Kolade Akinola, author of this article and Editorial Team Lead, Technology Times, after the interview with Rudman in Lagos. Photo by Aduragbemi Akinpelu of Technology Times.

First is affordability then now making it available by going to all the state, the objective Is that within the next 3 to 4 years we should be able to have a registrar in every single state in Nigeria so that every single Nigerian will have the opportunity to have the .ng.

Accessing the current  performance of the registrars Rudman says  , ‘’right now about 20 percent are doing 80 percent of the registration, the idea is how do we strengthen those 20 percent and how do we encourage those 80 percent so that they go more into the business and

I told you earlier that we want to go to all the state in Nigeria we would collaborate with all the registrars to see how we can go to all the state together to market .ng brand ,at the end of the marketing road show we intend to do in each state we hope to get at least a reseller from each state.”

”We need more registrars and 66 we currently have are not sufficient for the size of population of our country and substantial  part of these registrars are foreigners and when you look at .za of South Africa that has over 2 million registered domains they have over 530 registrars so we have an opportunity to grow the numbers of registrars in Nigeria.

We also want to increase the valve chain, right now people just register the .ng and the money stays in Nigeria instead of buying .com but if you look at it there is a valve chain where there is web designing ,if you buy a domain you have to get a web designer to design the website you also have to pay the hosting company to host the information on a physical server somewhere and substantial part of the money goes to that hosting  and we want to see that hosting is also residing in Nigeria and the money reside in Nigeria and we don’t have to pay foreign data centers.”

Combing  his responsibility as the CEO Internet exchange point of Nigeria (IXPN) and President of NiRA Rudman says  ‘’iXPN is a not for profit organization that is pushing for local content that is hosting of data locally without leaving the shores of Nigeria we have gotten significant part of the traffic to be localized.

My position in NiRA is that I really want to push more towards the local hosting .Like I said before that opportunities for the .ng there is hosting within the valve chain so we want to see how we come together and bring in all the actors the registrars, data centre operators government, iXPN, NiRA to put all our arsenal together to ensure we push for the local hosting and we achieve this when we have economics of scale that’s why I have the two hat to ensure that I mediate between the two to achieve the strategic position making Nigeria the hub for internet content in Africa.”

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Kolade Akinola Technology Journalist at Technology Times Mobile: + 234 (0) 807 401 6027