In this interview with Technology Times, Mr Oluwatoba Obaniyi, Whogohost CEO and Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) Vice President, one of the two candidates in the presidential race, shares his plans as the .ng domain manager elects new leaders today in Lagos.
Technology Times: What is your vision for the growth and development of the .ng domain name industry?
Oluwatoba Obaniyi: I see a future where the .ng domain name industry is growing and thriving. I foresee more companies and individuals registering .ng domains because they know how important it is to have a local online presence. I also believe there will be more competition in the .ng domain name business as more registrars and resellers enter the market.
Because of this, prices will go down, making .ng domains cheaper than other popular alternatives. Ultimately, I believe that everyone in Nigeria will benefit from the growth and development of the .ng domain name industry, as it will help support e-commerce, tourism, and other economic activities.
Technology Times: How do you plan to improve the registration process and promote adoption of .ng domain names among the internet community in Nigeria?
Oluwatoba Obaniyi: NiRA currently operates a 3R model – Registry > Registrar > Registrant. This means that NiRA does not sell domains directly to end users. This makes registrars key partners in promoting the adoption of .ng domains.
We would work closely with registrars to ensure that .ng domain registration process is seamless and straightforward.
We would also sign up key registrars to expand the reach of .ng domains beyond the shores of our nation.
Technology Times: What steps will you take to ensure that .ng domain names become household brands among individuals and businesses in Nigeria?
Oluwatoba Obaniyi: Some of the steps I would take to make .ng domains more popular include:
1. Aggressive brand awareness activities.
2. Co-marketing activities with registrars
3. Partnership with key stakeholders who have access to a large number of businesses and SMEs. 4. Activate the CAC-NITDA-NiRA partnership that would offer newly registered businesses free domains and websites.
5. Engage and incentivize big brands to move their domains to .ng.
These are just some of the activities that I would pursue to make .ng domains more visible to Nigerians.
Technology Times: How will you address issues of cyber security and protection of user data in relation to .ng domain names?
Oluwatoba Obaniyi: NiRA has always taken the privacy and protection of user data seriously. I would continue this trend to ensure that we have relevant security infrastructure and policies in place and that we meet all relevant security standards.
Technology Times: How do you plan to improve the partnership between NiRA and its registrars that drive the .ng domain name market?
Oluwatoba Obaniyi: As a registrar myself, I understand what registrars need. I would ensure that we provide relevant training and support for all our registrars, providing them with incentives that would encourage them to promote .ng domains over alternatives to their end users.
I would also ensure that we engage with registrars regularly to understand their pain points and what we can do to support them.
We would continue to revise our processes based on the feedback we receive from them, and we would create opportunities for co-marketing and other offers to help registrars grow their businesses.
Technology Times: How will you work to promote the use of .ng domain names in local content creation?
Oluwatoba Obaniyi: We have always promoted the need for local content creation and local hosting. I would continue in these endeavours to partner with relevant stakeholders to create educational content that promotes the importance of local content, local hosting, and how .ng plays a critical role in reducing capital flight while growing our local industries and protecting access to our data.
Technology Times: What steps will you take to attract more foreign investment into the .ng domain name industry?
Oluwatoba Obaniyi: We would continue our engagements with the international and regional communities to ensure that the .ng registry is seen as one of the largest and most stable registries in Africa.
I would also ensure that foreign entities can easily access .ng domains.
Technology Times: How do you plan to collaborate with other relevant stakeholders in the tech and telecommunications industry to promote the use of .ng domain names?
Oluwatoba Obaniyi: I would push for increased engagement with the tech community. We would also work with our registrars to offer special offers to the tech community and identify opportunities for channel partners.
Technology Times: How would you ensure that NiRA maintains its status as a non-governmental self-regulatory body in the management of the .ng domain name space?
Oluwatoba Obaniyi: NiRA was created as a multistakeholder organisation to manage the .ng domain space because this model allows .ng to benefit from the wealth of knowledge and experience of the diverse members of the community.
I would ensure that the membership remains rich and the contributions remain valuable and valid. I would also engage with all relevant government agencies to share the impact of the organisation’s efforts to grow the .ng domain space.
Technology Times: What strategies do you have in place to tackle issues of domain name abuse and cybercrime in the .ng domain name space?
Oluwatoba Obaniyi: I would engage with relevant law enforcement agencies to inform and educate them on how they can handle domain abuses and cybercrimes within and outside the .ng domain space.
We would also create communication channels to ensure that all reported cases are passed on efficiently for further investigation and prosecution. We would also work with other stakeholders and security providers to monitor abuse cases, allowing us to respond swiftly.
Technology Times: How do you plan to address the issue of domain name squatting and ensure that .ng domain names are used for legitimate purposes?
Oluwatoba Obaniyi: We would work with our registrars to ensure that they educate their users of acceptable uses of .ng domain names. We would also continue to improve our policies to ensure that we can react quickly to abuse reports and complaints.
Technology Times: How would you encourage local innovation and entrepreneurship in the .ng domain name industry, particularly among SMEs and the youth?
Oluwatoba Obaniyi: Using our special purpose vehicle, NiRA Academy, we would offer discounted training programs for SMEs to get equipped with relevant skills that would help them succeed online. We would also work with innovation hubs and other partners to help encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.
Technology Times: What is your position on the possibility of expanding the .ng domain name space to include more top-level domains?
I believe that there are opportunities for additional top-level domains, especially for professional associations. For instance, we can create .law.ng that would allow only lawyers recognised by the NBA to register domains such as example.law.ng.
Technology Times: How would you ensure that NiRA remains transparent and accountable to its membership and the public in the management of the .ng domain name space?
Oluwatoba Obaniyi: I would communicate regularly with the NiRA members on our plans and progress. I would also ensure that we engage regularly with the general public on our activities and growth of the .ng domain space.
Technology Times: What leadership qualities do you think will encourage NiRA members to vote for you as the next President of the association?
Oluwatoba Obaniyi: I believe that my experience as the CEO of Whogohost and Vice President of NiRA, as well as my experience managing stakeholder engagements, would make me an effective leader for NiRA.
As CEO of Whogohost, I have successfully grown and managed a firm of more than 70 employees, making it the largest .ng accredited registrar. This experience has given me the skills and knowledge necessary to lead and manage a large organisation.
In my role as Vice President of NiRA, I have worked closely with the outgoing President and have gained a deep understanding of the internal workings of NiRA. This experience has given me the knowledge and relationships necessary to effectively lead NiRA.
As Chairman of the Nigeria Internet Governance Forum – MultiStakeholder Advisory Group (NIGF-MAG), I have experience managing stakeholder engagements. This experience has given me the skills and knowledge necessary to build consensus and work effectively with a variety of stakeholders.
I believe that my experience, skills, and knowledge would make me an effective leader for NiRA. I am committed to working with NiRA members to achieve the association’s goals and to promote the growth and development of the Nigerian internet industry.
Editor’s Note: In line with Technology Times’ efforts to create a level playing field, our team extended interview opportunities to all three candidates in today’s race. The candidate who stepped down from the presidential election requested to be excused on account of his decision to discontinue the race. Mr Oluwatoba Obaniyi is the only one that has so far responded to the questions at the time of publishing this interview.