interviews How KeNIC plans to grow uptake of .ke

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Kenya's local web domain dot ke has recently come under sharp focus over safety concerns blamed for sluggish uptake compared to other top-level domains (TLDs).

The Business Daily sat with Geoffrey Shimanyula, the chairman of Kenya Network Information Centre (KeNIC) which handles the registration and issuance of the domain to discuss what they are doing to increase uptake and its role in digitising the economy.

- How many websites are currently on the dot ke domain?

We crossed the 100,000 mark in November last year. It’s not that we haven’t grown, what does happen in this business is that people register a domain name for a specific purpose and when that purpose ends, they forget about it.

So our biggest challenge has been to renew these domains. Out of the about 110,000 dot ke domains registered as of now, we have around 80 percent active websites...

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Very interesting interview, I think there is more in there that meets the eye. They mention that domain registration is 1000 KES and renewal is 800 KES, which is about $8 and $6.5 respectively. And yet at global registrars this domain is closer to $100 - why? They say they would like to grow the usage, and then continue to say "We can only push dot ke to those entities that have an interest in Kenya. If you are in the US. for example, and you have no business with Kenya, it doesn’t matter how beautiful our domain is, it won’t help you unless you want to use it for fraudulent reasons." - why assume that? The domain is ripe in domain-hack possibilities, but most of them are prohibited - ma.ke, ta.ke, ca.ke etc. all give "Prohibited String - Object Cannot Be Registered" - presumably because they're two-letter. And the cherry on top, the chairman points out that South Africa's .sa domain is bigger than .ke - while South Africa's domain is .za... All that doesn't instill a lot of confidence in his vision of the registry. I get that the main problem is low Internet uptake in the country, but looking at just the domain, you don't grow the registry while restricting its usage to fit your prejudices. You must pick one or the other.