Over the years, The Kenyan Network Information Center (KeNIC) has struggled to reach the 100,000 mark in .ke Kenya country code domain registrations.
Many reasons have been given for this shortfall, among them pricing, competition from Generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) like .com and .org, and also competition from Geographic domains like the new .africa. Also, not opening up the second level for registration has been cited as one of the reasons for the low number. KeNIC subsequently opened up registration on the second level in 2018, but this did not shore up the numbers. Other reasons include fear of political interference of .ke registered domains where political orders may takedown a registered domain without following due process, and downtime at the registry costing .ke dependent businesses unwarranted business loss.
KeNIC has grappled with pricing for many years. The latest strategy has been to give domain Registrars a flat fee for registering domains. The cost of registering a .co.ke domain (example nation.co.ke) to the Registrar as of 2019 is Ksh650 ($6.5), and the cost of renewal for each subsequent year is Ksh1160 ($11.6). The cost of registering a .ke domain (example nation.ke) is Ksh5800 ($58). These, however, are not the costs that the end-user (Registrant) will get since the bulk sellers (Registrars) will add some markup to sustain their businesses. There is no regulation on how much the Registrars mark up their prices, but Ksh2000 ($20) is common for .co.ke and ksh8000 ($80) for .ke domains. KeNIC’s pricing model is confusing to end-users because customers expect consistency. When registration fees are lower than renewal fees, the customers feel duped at the point of renewal, usually after the first year of registration.
How is the competition in Africa faring? In South Africa, there are around 1.26m .za domains. A single domain is priced at around R 75.00 ($5) for the end-user. For a .com, the average price is $15 per year.
Registry: The company responsible for managing the domain namespace. Examples are KeNIC for .ke ccTLD, and Verisign for .com and .net gTLDs.
ccTLD: Country Code Level Domain e.g co.ke or .co.za.
gTLD: Generic Top Level Domain e.g. .com or .org.
Registrar: A company that has access to a Registry to register domains for end users usually at a profit.
Registrant: An entity that registers a domain through a Registrar, and is usually the owner or end-user of the registered domain.
Domain: A unique name that identifies a company or individual on the Internet. e.g. wikipedia.org.
Registration on the second level: Ability to register your domain as yourcompany.ke, in addition to yourcompany.co.ke.Common Domain business terms.
From the September 2019 statistics, .ke domains stand at 93,446. This is 6,554 domains shy of the 100,000 mark. With proper management, marketing, and value proposition, KeNIC should cross the 100k mark in early 2020.
The numbers can be higher if KeNIC can be more deliberate about it. They should put strategies to increase trust on the Registry by reducing downtime of this key critical infrastructure, and provide periodic reports on how the resource is doing on availability. 100% availability is the minimum that is expected of a Registry. They should also address the political risk issue, and also increase in marketing and awareness. KeNIC revenue is about Ksh84,000,000 $0.84m (Assuming 43,000 new registrations at $6.5, and 43,000 renewals at $11.6). A good portion of that should go towards enriching its human resource, upgrading its infrastructure and marketing. That way, KeNIC can catch up with South Africa’s ZA Central Registry (ZACR)