Ope Odusan, chief operating officer at the NiRA. (itrealms.com.ng)
Why are we just having .ng now since it ought to have replaced .com.ng and others forms of domain?
Previously, registration at .ng SLD was classified as premium and it requires NiRA board approval. The price starts from N600,000 (US$3,800) per domain. Some registrations were done at this price, but after a while, and also looking at the industry trend with ICANN, the global body for names and numbers, [we made the] decision to open up more names.
The board of NiRA conducted a survey which shows that our people cannot afford to register .ng SLD directly because of cost. The present situation is to allow direct registration of names under .ng, but still have some premium names so that Nigerians can now register local names and produce more content on the internet.
Nigeria's communications technology minister has launched the national portal, a .gov.ng site, adding to several other similar government sites. With the .ng, what changes should be expected in government-owned domains?
The minister and the head of service recently issued directives and in the case of the head of civil service, a circular was issued that all Government email and website should now be on .gov.ng.
This is an important step and Nigerians will now be able to distinguish a real (Authorized) government website at least at the Federal level from non-authorized sites.
It is important that the Federal Government take the first step and we at NiRA are very appreciative of the steps taken by the minister and other government agencies.
.ng costs ten times more than .org and .biz. Does NiRA have anything to do with the high costs?
Yes. The price was set higher because registration at .ng level has special value that you cannot get on .org and .biz
As you know most names are no longer possible under the .org, .com and .biz. Most names have been registered so like a real estate, cyber estates in Nigeria can get expensive, but for now names are still available on the .ng
What do think you should be the fair price for the .ng domains?
Prices of .com.ng is cheaper between NGN1,500 (US$9) to NGN2,500 (US$16), but to get .ng domain currently charge NGN15,000 (US$95) per domain per year.
The difference is that it is shorter, anything .ng is shorter than anything .com.ng. Some people prefer short names for branding and so that is reflected in the prices.
I think NGN15,000 per domain per year is a fair price compared to the previous NGN500,000 per year per domain for the .ng
A young entrepreneur told me it could help enhance the nation's online reputation. Apart from this, what does the nation stand to benefit from the .ng domain names?
I agree with the young man. I think having a .ng is unique because it is a true, trusted Nigerian brand.
Our nation will gain a lot by reversing the current flight of capital to .com, .net, .biz, .info etc that collectively now account for over NGN600 million (US$3.8 million) every year that we Nigerians, as individuals and corporate bodies, send out to foreign companies.
It is estimated that Nigerians have combined registration of over 600,000 domain names and at NGN1,000 (US$6) per domain roughly, you see the amount of money we spend.
This figure stems from registration on .com, net, org. info, biz etc combined.
Some IT experts in Nigeria have been canvassing for stricter measures to ensure only legitimate enterprises and individuals register domain names. What measures have you put in place?
Our policies are very clear. You can read more about them on our website.
We reserve the right to shut down any domain, website or emails that do not conform to our policies.
What other measures are NiRA taking on the issue of cyber safety in Nigeria?
We are currently working with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Internet Numbers Registry for Africa (AFRINIC) to ensure that all domains registered under .ng can be traced.
We have a whois server which can be queried in real time to display the names of the person that owns a domain and couple this with the IP address database, it is easy to find any of these criminals if they operate within Nigeria, but you will discover some of these crimes may be outside of Nigeria so we will continue to work other law enforcement agencies within and outside of Nigeria.
What should we expect from NiRA in the short term?
Expect a stable, fast growing domain name industry with opportunities abound for young Nigerians.
And long term?
Long term, NiRA will use the proceeds from the sale of domain to support the ICT communities and internet research in Nigeria.
We hope to contribute to projects and ideas that will advance the use of the internet and domain name with websites in local languages and promote the creation of authentic Nigerian content on the internet.