Comments re: DNS Industry in Africa
Hi Amy,Below are my comments and suggestions for supporting Registrar growth in Africa.
The point has been raised that an increase in Accredited Registrars in the region is perhaps not the best measure of the development of the industry, and that internet penetration, freedom and commerce overall are more pressing issues.Whist this is almost undoubtedly true it should still be noted that an important role is played by Registrars, be they accredited or reseller, in internet advocacy, promotion and educating the wider public about the DNS industry and e-commerce opportunities.
Domain Registrars offer a host of additional products as well as domain names that assist a business or individual to develop a web presence, they also offer support and advice that is tailored to their target markets and its particular needs and challenges.Having local Registrars that are focused on the needs of the local market (local payment gateways, marketing etc.) is therefore important.Whether they are accredited or not is not really the issue, it is the services and education they provide that is important for promoting the industry.
Aside from economic circumstances in Africa, which I do not have first hand knowledge of, I can suggest from own experience of managing the day to the day operations of TLD Registrar Solutions, that the following areas may represent a barrier to entry:
-Most Registrar instruction, both at ICANN and the GTLD Registries, is vague and difficult to interpret.When support is needed phone numbers can be hard to find and very often only available in a local number.Very clear actionable insights, particularly in regards to compliance, sign up processes, fees, etc. would benefit potential Registrars with little experience.
-Establishing credit at Registries is expensive, it is especially difficult for a business with low cash flow reserves who may have difficulty obtaining instant payments, i.e. c/card or online from their client base.It is my understanding that this is difficult in some regions of Africa, a PAYG system at Registry level would lower the risk for start ups
-OT&E testing requires a high level technical knowledge and in most cases needs to be completed prior to the issuance of live Registry credentials (along with credit).Most Registries offer a web interface where purchases can be made through a Registrar account, this might be the preferred option for start-up businesses until technical knowledge can be afforded. Removing the OT&E requirement would allow this.
Addressing the above would allow a Registrar business to serve its client base, albeit in a very manual fashion, soon after gaining ICANN accreditation and with a lower financial risk.It might encourage more businesses to dip their toes in.
A few other ideas that may benefit the creation of local registrars:Ready access to a mentorship program that involves ICANN accredited Registrars.An element of these mentors should aim to include those Registrars whom have utilised the various reseller options available to them to first establish a web services business, and have then moved onto accreditation.
Engage with local CCTLD Registries and encourage a broader offering of services through a secondary Registrar business.
Engage with multinational businesses with a large presence in Africa and encourage localized Domain and DNS management.
To be included in any outreach, a clear demonstration to potential Registrars of the benefits of creating a Registrar business along with a case study which show the success of an established Registrar business under similar circumstances to that of the potential Registrar.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to comment and all the best with the endeavour.
Regards, Marc -- Marc McCutcheon Operations Manager TLD Registrar Solutions +44.2034357304 tldregistrarsolutions.com dominic.domains