INTERVIEW: ‘AkadomoRW’ could potentially give you the Rwandan identity you have been yearning for!
Rwanda has more than 100,000, registered business. If each can adopt or register a .RW domain name the country’s digital footprint would increase. To achieve this RICTA has targeted registration of at least 5,000 active .RW domains by the end of 2018. RICTA CEO Nkeramugaba Ghislain reveals how his institution is likely to achieve this, mainly though a campaign targeting Rwandan SMEs, dubbed ‘Doing Business Online’.
Have you registered any growth?
The 2017 figures surpassed the FY2016 figures. We closed the year with 3,155 active domain names, which constitutes a significant growth (I would say it was a 49 percent growth.
How do you envisage 2018?
Considering the various activities that are planned for 2018 including the launch of the ‘Doing Business Online’ program, we hope to have better performance especially with the .RW domain names registered.
Tell the readers about the ‘Doing Business Online’ campaign?
This campaign aims at promoting Rwanda’s micro enterprises (SMEs) so that they can understand that they can have and businesses on digital platforms by having a domain name and therefore even a website. The campaign aims at explaining that for a Rwandan business to expand its operations should at least have a transactional website (with probably a payment feature that allows to sell products and services online). There are more than 100,000 registered businesses, which can potentially adopt “AkadomoRW”. We are targeting to double .RW domain name registrations, and reach at least 5,000 active domains by the end of 2018.
What are the benefits of having a .RW?
Attaching a Rwandan identity to your digital/online presence gives and allows the entire ‘Rwanda(n)’ brand to reverberate on your online community. With a .RW domain name it’s easier for you to get local support because the service is offered by Rwandans for Rwandans. Therefore, if something goes wrong, you can pick up your phone or drive to the service provider to have your issue fixed.
Secondly the .RW domain name is easy to shorten with meaningful strings that are still available (nobody likes long domain names). If today you are looking for any short/meaningful string under .com, such as ‘law.com’ or ‘door.com’ or anything of that kind, it is quasi impossible to have it available. One has to add other words like ‘lawrwanda.com’ or ‘doorrwanda.com’. However, with .RW, you can find it. Some of those short/meaningful strings are already available.
Are there any other benefits?
You will get the best search rankings. With a .RW, you stand the possibility of ranking better in searches (e.g. google.rw), because when many people are searching a string, they are redirected to do the search on “google.rw” website.
Is RICTA is planning to launch second level domains?
The generic second-level domains (co.rw, org.rw, ac.rw, net.rw and coop.rw) have been in place for 5 years. The most popular are co.rw (companies) and ac.rw (education/academic). These generic second-level .RW domains have their prices discounted vis-à-vis the main .RW domains. We encourage schools and academic institutions to adopt ac.rw domain names. For the rest of the second-level domains, the owner can choose to adopt them or go directly on the .RW domain.
RICTA also registers other ‘domain registrars’. Do you think being a domain registrar is a profitable business?
Registrars are the businesses/individuals who sell domain names. Yes, it is a profitable business, but it requires paying attention to certain key aspects.
What is the business model used by ‘domain registrars’ that you recommend?
Registrars work with website designers, so that when a client is looking for a website, the registrar can offer both the domain name, the website design and the website/email hosting as one package. So in order to be successful, the registrar ought to be innovative especially in the service delivery. The registrars have to put in place automated service provisioning that can allow any client to search for an available domain or even place an online order to be able to pay online and activate the domain name immediately. All these should be done preferably without any human intervention. With such system in place, the registrar is able to reach a significant number of potential clients, and have higher sales volumes.
What are the requirements of ant potential entrepreneur in this business?
Anyone aspiring to go into this business should have a good understanding of the core technologies that make Internet work, such as Domain Name System (DNS), website hosting, IP Networking/routing, some web programming skills and have some good level of LINUX system administration. All these skills can be learnt easily on Internet and YouTube. I would advise entrepreneurs in this space to collaborate more. This is not a one-man-show. It requires teamwork and collaboration.
If one registers www.kigali.co.rw or www.gasabo.co.rw is this a conflict with the city?
There are some names that have been restricted from the .RW registry, for example the names of districts. The reason behind this policy is to avoid any confusion that could result between a government domain names and any other similar domain (e.g. gasabo.gov.rw and gasabo.rw). There is a restriction on common names such as names of Rwanda Mountains, rivers, forests, etc. The restriction applies to uniquely distinctive domain names such as gasabo.co.rw or gasabo.rw, BUT it does not restrict combined name such as gasaboleather.co.rw or gasabodiary.rw. These can be registered.
What do you think about the growth of Internet in Rwanda?
It has been Internet steady over the past years. Most importantly, the local Internet (i.e. local content and infrastructure) has been developing. There has been the implementation of 4G-network countrywide. In in Kigali City fiber-to-the-home has reached a significant number of households. In terms of content development, being online and online services have registered development, with more government services going live (RwandaOnline), and financial institutions offering more services as well. RICTA is working on an initiative to systematically improve the online presence of some clusters like schools and local governments (sectors and cells, etc).