Make It Cheap

Here is an article I wrote some 18 months ago

Ma.ke It Cheap:
Imagine how different your Internet experience would be if we talked about sending mail to johnny 123.654.789 or were excited about having been 987.765.543’d. The domain name system, the Internet’s dynamic telephone directory that ,maps human friendly names like yahoo and Facebook onto computer friendly numbers is perhaps the single most useful and fun feature of the Internet. Without the Domain Name System or DNS , the Internet would be as fun as referring to people by their ID numbers.

Kenic the national agency charged with the task of registering and assigning names for the .ke ccTLD, recently celebrated what was no doubt a significant milestone,attaining 10,000 .ke domain registrations .The case for lowering the domain registration charges for the .ke domain name has often been stated to little or no response from the Kenya country domain registrar Kenic.
This was largely due to the decision by Kenic to lower the domain charges for secondary and primary schools, and other academic institutions down to 500 bob, which though plausible fell short of my expectations.
That the .ke ccTLDs registration charges are way past exorbitant is not common knowledge. The fact that it would today cost me no less than 3000 Kenya Shillings for a .co.ke domain name where as a .com domain costs significantly less at KShs 800 is a major disincentive for me or anyone looking to register domain name to opt for .co.ke.
In a country where per capita GDP is $ 300 it simply does not make sense to charge $ 50 for a domain name.
For $ 50 I would be able to register a domain with the more sought after ccTLDs like Macedonia’s .me at $ 40 or .mp .Closer home Rwanda’s registrar does not charge for the registration of .rw domains by Rwandan citizens or residents. Talk about a country that is serious about fueling ICT growth.

It is a telling sign that most of the .ke Domain name registrars are not themselves online, they do not have sites, perhaps an indicator that the charges too dear even for them.
Macedonia arguably won the CCTLD lottery when they got the .me domain name and within days had registered over 250,000 domains world wide.
Have the folks at Kenic ever thought about the possibility of charging foreigners and non-residents more for the .co.ke domains in order to make up for lost revenues in the event they lower charges for residents. With proper marketing – I find it curious that Kenic does not have a presence on Twitter or Facebook both perfect channels for cheap Internet marketing, but I digress here –I can already imagine the number of the more than 17,000 Coca Cola bottlers world wide would be that would be falling over themselves to acquire .co.ke.
There is also need for improved transparency in the licensing of .ke registrars and in the pricing structure. The Kenyan Internet public ought to be told how much of the three thousand shillings or so we have to pay to register a .ke domain goes to Kenic, the recommended price for .ke registrations in addition to the Contacts of registrars. I also think there is need to enlist more .ke registrars to increase competition and improve service and prices.
ICT policymakers and Information PS Bitange Ndemo comes to mind here, are perennially in the news urging Kenyan netizens to produce and grow local Internet content. I am convinced that lowering the prices charged for the .ke domain would go a long way in reducing the cost of setting up and maintaining Kenyan websites and as such spur the growth of Kenyan net. The high cost of domain registration remains an impediment to those local content generators and Internet entrepreneurs who want to get online.
Facebook, Napster and , phenomena of the Internet age were founded by University students barely out of their teens. In Kenya today it is prohibitively costly for the average University student to set up their own website even with the necessary expertise largely due to high cost of domain registration.
I am convinced there is a present and clear need for Kenyan ICT policymakers and implementing agencies – that means the Kenya ICT board and Communications Commission of Kenya too – to disabuse themselves of the elitist mentality that plagues and is often apparent in their thinking and actions.
For years banking services remained the preserve of the urban privileged and Kenyan banks operated like boutiques and restaurants, picky to a fault about who could and could not become a customer largely due to said elitist mentality.
The local mobile phone operators impressed on us an important lesson, the power of micro payments in an economy like Kenya’s. I call it the Bamba 20 effect. When they introduced KShs 20 prepaid airtime credit scratch card, airtime sales actually grew.
The lesson should not be lost on Kenic. A hundred thousand .co.ke domain owners each paying 500 bob would fetch more than the current 10000 or so domain owners paying 3,000.
One of the great promises of the Internet was the Net would be the great equalizer . That the child in Bondo would have the same informational resources as the child in Boston. Today that promise looks ever increasingly unlikely to be fulfilled as ICT Policy makers continues to adopt policies that favor the West of Nairobi and are a hindrance to those in other parts of the country.
Kenic would have me believe that paying for the .co.ke is patriotism even at a 2000 shillings premium. In turn I call on Kenic to be patriotic and play its part in ensuring wider accessibility to Internet technologies for all Kenyans.

Update

Kenic have since introduced a .me.ke domain and are selling it at Kshs 500 + VAT.

Now for Part 2 : Ma.ke It Free.

Always proof read to see if you something out
Exaggeration is a hundred million times worse than understatement.
Have you been to paulkukubo.COM?

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