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Monday, July 02, 2012

New gTLD: Why Africa ranks low


The first phase of the new generic Top Level Domain (TLD) applications were released on Wednesday, June 13, 2012. REMMY NWEKE examines how the African continent fared in the process, so far.
 
Preamble:
A few days ago, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) concluded the first phase of the processes on the new Generic Top Level Domain (gTLDs) with Africa scoring the least position with only 17 strings out of the 1,930 total applications submitted.
ICANN records showed that North America led the process with 911, followed by Europe with 675, Asia 303, Latin America and Caribbean got 24, Africa concluded the process with 17 applications, with each of the applications attracting the sum of $185,000, about N29,600,000 million per string, thus a total of $357,050,000 million, about N57,128,000,000 billion was raked from the 1930 strings.

About Africa:
Historically, Africa is the world’s second-largest and second-most-populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, thus covering 6 per cent of the earth’s total surface area and 20.4 per cent of the total land area, according to Wikipedia.
Additionally, Africa has about 1.0 billion people as at 2009, which accounts for about 14.72 per cent of the world’s human population and has 54 fully recognized sovereign states, 9 territories and three de facto states with limited recognition.
Nigeria is one of the largest populations of all African countries, at over 160 million. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the largest country in total area in sub-Saharan Africa, and Algeria is the largest as a whole.

Internet community reacts:
This development came as Internet experts have reacted to the low performance of Africa, attributing it to low-level of sensitization and interest.
One of those who spoke on this to DigitalSENSE News, the vice president of the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA) and chief executive officer, Skannet Nigeria Limited, Mr. Sunday Folayan, berated the level of commitment Africa has shown on domain name business.
Folayan also says Africa’s involvement in the new gTLD business has been very minute, just as there are very few African registrars involved in the gTLD business.
“Most of the African ccTLDs are not populated unlike their counterparts in the other parts of the world,” he said, stressing that Africa’s response to the new gTLDs is reflective of the low level of interest and participation in domain name business generally.

One string is $185,000:
Explaining further on the processes to DigitalSENSE News exclusively, the Coordinator – Global Media Relations at Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Mr. James Cole, noted that the evaluation fee for a new gTLD application currently is at $185,000 per application. “So, if someone applied for .thing and .thething, those would be considered two separate applications, each with a $185,000 fee,” he enlightened.
Also, Mr. Cole told DigitalSENSE News that the total number of applications was 1,930, entails that each application represents one string that has been applied for.
However, he pointed out that some strings received multiple applications, for instance, “You can see that strings such as “.store” and “.llc” received multiple applications.”

New gTLD @ a glance
Additionally, the new gTLD’s introduction, ICANN staff assured would not change how the Internet operates, explaining that the increase in number of gTLDs into the root is not expected to affect the way the Internet operates, but potentially change the way people find information on the Internet or how businesses plan and structure their online presence.
ICANN pointed out that market speculations have varied widely, but the process to evaluate applications has been built to economically accommodate a wide range. Elucidating that applying for a new gTLD is not the same as buying a domain name.
This, officials said emphatic ‘no’, adding that nowadays, organizations and individuals around the world could register second-level and, in some cases, third-level domain names, citing an instance with maps.google.com, which in this case “google” is a second-level name and “maps” is a third-level domain.
“They simply need to find an accredited registrar, comply with the registrant terms and conditions and pay registration and renewal fees. The application for a new gTLD is a much more complex process. An applicant for a new gTLD is, in fact, applying to create and operate a registry business supporting the Internet’s domain name system,” ICANN stated in the guidebook.
Further, this involves a number of significant responsibilities, as the operator of a new gTLD is running a piece of visible Internet infrastructure, but not with the payment of $185,000, about N30,155,000 million application fee, among others, which means that ICANN ranked in some N58,199,150,000 billion from the 1930 (applications) strings.

ICANN says new gTLD increases competition:
ICANN says, it developed the new generic Top-Level Domain Programme to increase competition and choice into the Internet’s addressing system.
Officials of ICANN led by the immediate past-president Mr. Rod Beckstrom had explained that a gTLD is an Internet domain name extension such as the familiar .com, .net, or .org. Stressing that there are 280 country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs), but only 22 “generics” in the domain name system right now, but all that have taken a new turn with the unveiling of the gTLD.
DigitalSENSE News recalls that the new gTLD application window opened on January 12, 2012 and closed on May 30, 2012.
The new gTLD exercise marks a historic change in domain name system, mainly because it allows, for the first time, non-Latin language scripts, such as Arabic, Chinese and Cyrillic to be used in a gTLD.
Also, DigitalSENSE News noted that the new programme was approved by ICANN’s Board of Directors in June last year, 2011, at the 41st public meeting in Singapore, following a six-year careful study, discussion and debate.
The programme’s formation was framed by 45 comment periods encompassing more than 2,400 comments and analyses, in addition to 55 explanatory memoranda or independent reports and seven (7) drafts of the gTLD applicant guidebook.

Conclusion:
Whilst the African Internet community expresses dismay on the number of take-up from the continent on the new gTLD, it would be expedient for African Registrars and Registry, AfriNIC to wake up to its responsibilities of engaging the continent with the world, when it comes to Internet development, because its high-time to join the players rather than playing catch-up.
 
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