" ITREALMS: .ng redelegation, a plus for NiRA

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

.ng redelegation, a plus for NiRA

The successful conclusion of redelegation of the nation’s country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) name .ng, stands as a major achievement for Nigeria, reports REMMY NWEKE.

Penultimate Wednesday, May 13, 2009, no doubt, is a date to remember for every loving Nigerian Internet enthusiast, mainly because it was the day another landmark history was made with the conclusion of the nation’s country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) name .ng, with the current global coordinating internet agency, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

ICANN in the saddle:
It must be recognized that this feat is coming after over 13 years of the .ng registration with ICANN, an international not-to-profit corporation championing standardization of the internet community globally. Formed in 1998, ICANN involves participants from all over the world and is dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable, as well as bent on promoting competition by developing policies on the Internet’s unique identifiers and over the years it has impacted on the expansion and evolution of the Internet.

What’s TLD?
A country code top-level domain is an Internet top-level domain generally used or reserved for a country or a dependent territory. Some examples of ccTLD are .us for United States, .uk for United Kingdom, .de for Germany, .ng for Nigeria, .nz for New Zealand, and .eg for Egypt to name a few.

President, Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA), Mr. Ndukwe Kalu, said it is a milestone for the country to achieve the full local management and control of its ccTLD, .ng.

ITRealms Online recalls that .ng ccTLD expedition began precisely in 1995, with the first delegation to Mrs. Ibukun Odusote as the then administrative Point of Contact (POC). And by 2004 stakeholders were engulfed in controversy over who hosts the ccTLD locally, majorly between a non-governmental organization, the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) and Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), which attracted the attention of the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who consequently, directed the Nigerian Internet community represented by the G22 to reach a consensus on a not-for-profit and all inclusive entity to manage the .ng ccTLD, thus giving birth to NiRA board of trustees in 2005, proceeded by the election of the NIRA executive board in May 2007.

NiRA’s Vision 20-2011:
NiRA president, Kalu, described the conclusion of the exercise as a turning point in the existence of .ng ccTLD, having scaled through the processes as demanded by ICANN’s administrative affiliate, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

“For us, we have set our Vision 20 2020 as Vision 20 2011, that is, for Nigeria to make the ccTLD top 20 by year 2011,” he declared.

Also, Ndukwe said that with the conclusion, NiRA executive board inaugurated since May 2007, at an all-inclusive stakeholders meeting in Lagos, can now go full-length into the commercial aspect of the .ng management, which was entrusted on NiRA at inception.

As said by him, precisely 4pm GMT, May 13, 2009, Verisign implemented ICANN approved root server changes to the .ng ccTLD; while a few hours later IANA followed the board approved redelegation of the Nigerian ccTLD on its website, www.iana.org, stressing that effectively this brings to a close the much agitated local hosting of .ng ccTLD by Nigerian Internet community.

However, after the inauguration of the current exco, top on the agenda of NiRA was to ensure this conclusion among other challenges, due largely to the controversies .ng has generated in the recent past and also the emergence of NiRA into the polity.

Yet the executives were undaunted as they initiated one process after another, restructuring things by putting in place the required structure and infrastructure that would sustain the .ng ccTLD eventually.

Today, most stakeholders in the nation’s internet community agreed that those structures have paid off owing to the diligence of the exco-led by Ndukwe Kalu and his vice president, Mrs. Mary Uduma, who also represents the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) at NiRA, just as .ng ccTLD promises to offer its domains with the most robust technical infrastructure on the continent.

Standardizing .ng ccTLD:
“The .ng ccTLD is the only ccTLD with multiple anycast name servers offering local resolutions of .ng domain in over 40 cities in five continents with a 100 per cent uptime guarantee,” Kalu said, pointing out that Nigeria, as matter of fact, is the second country in Africa to have a fully automated registry with full Enhanced Parallel Port (EPP) making its access to be of a global standard that allows registrars from all over the world to interact with it.

EPP also known as Enhanced Capability Port (ECP) is a standard signaling method for bi-directional parallel communication between a computer and peripheral devices that offers the potential for much higher rates of data transfer than the original parallel signaling methods.

In other words, with the Nigerian registry, anyone can register .ng in seconds and be sure that the name would always be available and visitors to such websites would get translations of their domain names in over 40 local cities; making room for a better web presence.

For the Nigerian Internet community, this is truly a defining moment, which made NIRA the sponsoring organization and manager of the .ng ccTLD, hence bringing the .ng as desired to the greater participation of all stakeholders, both in government and private sector.

Respect for late Ajayi:

This landmark act has also accorded the former Director General, National IT Development Agency (NITDA), late Prof Gabriel Ajayi, to invariably have his final rest, with his name also rested from the IANA website; just as with the change, NIRA has deemphasized personalization of the domain managers, but rather used roles with the admin contact as the role of NIRA President, which could be any body occupying such a position.

NIRA, therefore, has exhibited commitment for the population of .ng ccTLD and would soon outline key projects toward achieving its Vision 20 2011. Kalu also noted that with this development in the Nigerian cyberspace countless opportunities would be available to both the state and citizens.

MOU for .ng:
Noteworthy is that last year, NiRA entered an agreement with NITDA which spurred the end result of today, the redelegation without controversy, attracting commendations from stakeholders and the Internet community precisely, most of who described the development as a positive chapter in the annals of Internet development in the country.

And following the MoU, NiRA filed for the redelegation without forgetting to invite comments on 13-policy documents to guide its operations.

The first sets of policies, he said, were 11 domain related including policy development process, domain name policy, special domain name policy, fees policy, privacy policy and dispute resolution policy. He listed others to comprise policies on general registration rules, registrant agreement, registrar agreement, registrar accreditation process and glossary as contained in the policy documents.

Kalu pointed out that apart from the above 11 named documents, there were two policy documents specifically mapped out to ensure good corporate governance in management of affairs of NiRA, thus aligning its procedure with international best practices.

Warming up for 2010 public meeting:
This redelegation is apt, mostly now that Nigeria has proposed to host ICANN’s international meeting by 2010, of which ICANN official recently visited Nigeria and had meeting with NiRA officials and NCC in Abuja, just as Nigeria has already set up a Local Organising Committee (LOC) led by the Director of Licensing at NCC and Vice president, NiRA, Mrs. Mary Uduma.Confirming this, the Regional Manager for Africa at ICANN, Ms Anne Rachel Inne, informed that Nigeria has sent an Expression of Interest to host the 2010 meeting to the ICANN team in-charge, and applauded NiRA and Nigeria for a successful redelegation of .ng.

Stakeholders comment:

For the chief executive, IceCool, a team of website developers, Mr. Destiny Amana, when Mr. Kalu and his team were elected into NiRA exco, stakeholders were at lost as to what to expect as the task of moving .ng into the hands of Nigerians had eluded the internet community for a long time.

“But, after a trying time and through so-tricky Information Technology maneuvering, the president has successfully changed delegation from Randy Bush, whom we are thankful to for hosting .ng for as long as he did,” Amana said.

Ndukwe’s team, he said, has established a standard compliant registry as a legacy for future generations and has involved the pioneer registrars all the way through the process.

Amana further commended the technical committee for pulling redelegation processes off and tasked the registrars to ensure the Vision 20 2011 is realizable byway of “make .ng number 1.”

NCS president, Prof. Charles Uwadia, while reacting said that the nation’s Internet community is happy for finally taken charge of its own online identity, .ng. “The nation has all it takes to manage it effectively both administratively and technically, so stakeholders are happy,” he asserted.

Tapping .ng advantage:
Like Amana noted, the responsibility of popularizing .ng, apart from resting on registrars, equally lays on both public and private sectors in the country to embrace .ng, the nation’s identity in the cyberspace, so as to help Ndukwe’s dream team in achieving yet another mile stone of 20 2011 for the country, more so, when .ng is touted as the cheapest domain name to get in recent times.

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