Nigeria mulls ‘business whitelist’ to boost Internet stakes

Nigeria mulls ‘business whitelist’ to boost Internet stakes

Nigeria mulls ‘business whitelist’ to boost Internet stakes

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Nigeria is developing a business whitelist programme to boost confidence in local business operating on the borderless Internet marketplace, the nation’s Internet domain name manager says.

Sunday Folayan, President of the multistakeholder group that manages Nigeria’s .ng Internet name, the Nigerian Internet Registration Association (NIRA), says the proposed Nigerian Business whitelist is a national response to address global blacklisting of Nigerian businesses on the Internet.

Folayan dropped this hint while briefing FINTECH 1000, a virtual group of professionals in the Financial Technology sector, on the workings of Nigerian Domain Name industry.

NIRA believes that by developing a whitelist of local businesses trading online, Nigeria can boost confidence in the local business community and grow its share its share of cyberstakes among the global Internet Community.

“We are in the process of developing a Nigerian Business whitelist. The concept of the whitelist, is to move against the global blacklisting of Nigerian businesses, (a kind of KYC) by providing some assurance for those who want to do the checks, that a business is verified by domain name, (and all the details in whois) such as the Email address, Phone number, Location address, Banking/payment details (used in paying for the domain) etc.”

He says the whitelisting plan will be “creating certain degrees of confidence (depending on the number of parameters verified) for each business that registers a .ng domain name. This means that we will have L0 … L9 which could clearly signify the level of trust of a company with a .ng domain name.”

“If you go to South Africa, almost all their domains are .co.za indeed, maybe 95%. Very few companies use .com. This is the same in Germany, they are almost all .de. Indeed, Germany has over 5 million domain names and a renewal rate of 99%.”, Folayan says.

Sunday Folayan, President of Nigeria Internet Registration Association of Nigeria (NIRA) seen at a display of Nigeria's .ng Internet domain name in Lagos
Sunday Folayan, President of Nigeria Internet Registration Association of Nigeria (NIRA) seen at a display of Nigeria’s .ng Internet domain name in Lagos

The NIRA President explains that, “This means that we will have L0 … L9 which could clearly signify the level of trust of a company with a .ng domain name. All new registrations will start at say L0, and progress to L9 as more details are verified in the KYC. We believe organisations that have been verified to a higher degree should be trusted globally and businesses done with them. At the higher levels, collaboration with banks could assure the world that such entities and their managers are not chronic debtors and can indeed enjoy credit within the business world.”

According to Folayan, NIRA has “the facility to support it, but the banks will have to collaborate with the CBN and the current root identity holder (NITDA) to be able to enjoy this proposition. Right now, it needs some push to get it into the mainstream.”

Amid the economic depression in Nigeria, the NIRA President says that the body is “pleased with the growth” but calls for more individuals and businesses to embrace the use of the .ng domain name.  

“If you go to South Africa, almost all their domains are .co.za indeed, maybe 95%. Very few companies use .com. This is the same in Germany, they are almost all .de. Indeed, Germany has over 5 million domain names and a renewal rate of 99%.”, Folayan says.

Locally, the renewal rate of .ng is currently at about 70%, Folayan says while underscoring that NIRA wants to “see better than 90%.”

According to him, “also commensurate is our year-on-year growth. From 3000 domains at the inception of NIRA in 2007, we have grown to 106,000 domains. The year-on-year growth is steady and better than 50%.”

Folayan explains further that, “from a modest 22,100 domains in April 2015, we crossed the 75,000 domains in December 2016, and have crossed 100,000 in December 2017, making the .ng ccTLD the second fastest growing Registry in Africa. .Za leads with one million domains, while .ke is third with 75,000 domains names.”

According to Folayan, the underlisted factors are the top 5 reasons why the .NG domains have increased drastically in number over the past 10 years:

Registrar – Registry – Registrant (3R) Model: .NG has experienced a tremendous explosion ever since the “3R” model was introduced and a proper EPP registry system was implemented. With domain registration being mostly a commercial operation, registrars were naturally motivated to make profit and were thus aggressive with new domain registrations.

Large Market:  It also helps that Nigeria is Africa’s largest population. With a youthful population of over 185 million people living in Nigeria as of November 2017 and an estimated Internet penetration of about 50%, growth was inevitable. .ng is intended for Nigerian websites. The strongest patronage is by Nigerians in Nigeria.

Competition: Steep competition among registrars has also meant that retail .ng registration prices have dropped over the years. New registrars often try to make a mark on the market by offering .ng domains at the lowest pricing possible, although some with higher renewal pricing. Many registrars also bundle 3rd-level .ng domains (like .com.ng and .org.ng) with their annual web hosting plans as “free domains”, thus increasing the number even further.

Foreign Exchange (forex): Another factor that has driven the growth of .ng within Nigeria is the increase in the Naira pricing of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) like .com, .org, .biz due to the drastic weakening of the Naira (Nigeria’s national currency) relative do the US Dollar. The prices of generic domains from most registrars within Nigeria suddenly doubled, while the prices of .ng domains naturally stayed same, or even reduced, in some cases.

Wide Adoption:  An aggressive marketing and promotion drive of the .ng by the .ng registry and .ng registrars in Nigeria has meant that big well-known brands like Google Nigeria, Nigerian e-commerce websites like Jumia Nigeria, most tertiary academic institutions, Federal and State Government and their parastatals have adopted .ng for their websites and email. This has, in turn, had a domino effect on other smaller entities to do same.

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