By Zeenat Sambo
Recently, I read about the inauguration of a 14-man enforcement committee to monitor the implementation of the National Second Level Domain Policy in ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) at the state and federal levels by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). I was astonished that after 6 years, the Nigerian government is still advocating for the compliance of the local .ng domain.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) drive towards economic diversification and commitment to the development of a robust digital economy resulted in the approval of the National Second Level Domain Policy on February 16, 2022, which required the use of the Nigerian Second Level Domain by government-owned websites and official emails.
A diplomat issued his card for confirmation and on it reads .co.uk while our top public officials were not aware of the use of .ng in their ministries. Let me add that Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) is the registry for .ng Internet Domain Names and maintains the database of names registered in the country.
The .ng is the internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD). This Nigeria’s domain name system identifies local websites and is currently available for registration in the following variants, with most of them being restricted to Nigerian entities such as biz.ng, org.ng, gov.ng, edu.ng, and so on.
Many Nigerian business platforms still struggling with the indulgence of .ng, not aware of the immense benefit it offers to boost their business outlook locally and internationally.
For Instance, businesses registering .ng domain names have the immediate benefit of being ranked first on search engines when they conduct an online search. Using it and maintaining good SEO for the website will, over time, lead to an increase in local traffic.
A strong online presence is essential. Prospective customer will likely conduct a web search when looking for your product or service. A website that is relatively easy to find and navigate will greatly increase your chances of making a sale which .ng provides.
Also disturbing is the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) report that the number of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) dropped by about 2 million between 2017 and 2021.
The 2021 MSME survey revealed that there are 39 million MSMEs in Nigeria which is a significant drop from the 41 million reported in the 2017 survey report.
Now, think of the amazing impact on these MSMEs if a significant number used the .ng domain for the development of their website with the national identity and all the attendant benefits.
For international trade merchants, .ng is a strong provider of mobility for online presence. Whether they decide to switch hosting services, relocate to a different country, or switch to using their in-house server, the domain name remains, allowing them to build their brand without having to start all over.
Another interesting fact is the use of .gov.ng for MDAs, especially at the state and local government levels, where 80 percent of administration websites and mail addresses lack the .ng validation.
Nigeria’s online presence aims to dominate the digital economy, but the MDAs’ use of generic domains and personal e-mail for business and correspondence compromise its identity, security, and global reputation on the internet.
The use of .ng in all state and local governments will make a very good first impression as being patriotic, credible, and a crucial tool for meeting the needs of citizens and connecting with your community.
The slow connectivity that many local governments complain of can be resolved by the local domain. There is usually a delay associated with any website that utilizes a foreign string because of URL demand for the web page to load. By using the .ng string and also hosting their website locally, they can improve speed and enable the website to operate faster.
Therefore, MDAs should serve as good examples for all in using the domain at. To build Nigeria’s digital presence in the global space, MDAs should stop using domains from the internet providers or mail providers.
In contrast to registering a foreign domain, the .ng domain is affordable and payments are made in Naira. This will save businesses and the country huge amounts of foreign exchange.
What amazes me is that Nigeria has the highest number of tech hubs in Africa with South Africa coming second. Yet South Africa has over 1 million domains in the .co.za registry while Nigeria has about 100,000 domains in the .ng registry.
Many federal and states government institutions fancy the use of other national domain name applications at the expense of the .ng domain which still suffers poor recognition.
The constitution of the enforcement team by NITDA – the authority that manages and administers Nigeria’s ccTLD (.ng) – to monitor the Domain Policy implementation is commendable. Its partnership with relevant organizations would ensure that government entities have access to dedicated domain names.
It is good that service providers have been encouraged to support the initiative by making sure that any government domain they register conforms with the .ng. domain.
It is expected that the new policy will significantly enhance the public’s confidence in the authenticity and security of information accessible from government-owned websites.
Furthermore, the application of .ng domain websites or email does not invalidate our already existing email or website addresses. They can be synchronized to utilize the existing application with no complications or delay.
The cooperation of all Nigerians is highly needed to adopt the use of the .ng domain which will help advance the country’s digital transformation and economic fortune.
Zeenat Sambo writes from Wuye District, Abuja.