(If you don’t have background information on domains, start with the other posts below)
The debate over the uptake of .ke domains has been going on for a while and has been dominated by the issue of cost. Yes the domain is expensive; 3,000 Kenya shillings per year ($40) is expensive compared to $10 for a .com, .net .info etc.
But is the cost the real issue? Are there other problems within .ke and management at KENIC that make it hard for people to take up .ke? Is Kenic’s marketing structure flawed in as far as promoting the uptake of domains is concerned? (Read about Paul in a separate post on why PS Ndemo should convert his soldiers first).
My questions may look obvious but it is hard for me to believe that Paul Kukubo, CEO of Kenya ICT Board, maintains a .com because he can not afford 3k per year, Moses Kemibaro sits on the Kenic board and operates a .com.
I was shocked when he told me that he sits on the Kenic board; my visits to Kenic site are more for the WHOIS data and news. I was shocked because sitting on the board means that you are for the idea of marketing .ke.
How then do you market .ke when you maintain and drum up support for a .com? I recall a huge row some years back when a young man in the US turned up for a Coke job interview or something like that, wearing a Pepsi labeled shirt and he was turned away. It may be the wrong comparison but how do you sit on the board of an organization whose “goods” you don’t support.
I am sure Kemibaro is not the only board member who operates another domain other than .ke but that amounts to double speak. I am sure we have heard of politicians complaining about our education system and how it makes kids this and that but their kids go to the international schools which don’t have the same problems with our schools.
So, the next time you complain about politicians and their perfect act of doublespeak, remember they are not the only ones; there are others who can do it better.
I know its easier to defend this and say people have liberty to buy whatever domains they like and according to their interests and that is ok; but how do you convince me to buy something you are not convinced about?
If the real issue is cost and Kemibaro and Kukubo can not raise 3k per year for a domain, then the guys at Kenic board should change their marketing structure. If selling through registrars is hindering the uptake because Kenic can not sell directly, then let it be that people can buy directly from Kenic, which will force registrars to focus more on the Value Added Services instead of domains as source of profits.
I have never understood the Kenic logic; Kenic has 11,000 or so domains, if they sell at Ksh. 2,300 thats 25.3 million per year and if 10 million goes to registrars, then Kenic remains with 13 million for its annual operations.
The rate of internet users in Kenya is growing and I think the numbers have grown from the projected 3 million users two years ago. This is also likely to drive up awareness on websites and domains.
Assuming Kenic decides to sell to consumers directly or conduct a campaign with registrars to sell the domain at Ksh 150 ($) and allow registrars to make money building websites and hosting? Assuming out of the more than 3 million users, we can convince 1 million with other domains and others who don’t have to buy a .ke, that would be Ksh. 150 million, which is more than what Kenic is making right now.
I know this sounds like a long shot but its doable. South Africa (.za) has more than a million domains .co.za has more than 600,000 domains and the others in education sector are growing by day. (Will look for actual stats from SA; will ask for someone to comment).
Back to the issue of .ke, i recall two weeks ago when i was in Seoul for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numebrs meeting (ICANN), I met Sammy Buruchara, Kenic board chair and as you can read, I discussed issues about what affects Kenic and whether the cost is the real issue.
According to Sammy, cost is not the real issue; consumers are willing to pay more but the techies who sell the domains make cost an issue so that they can make more money and he had a point.
Look at Kemibaro, he has his company that does web development among other things. If you walk to his offices and you want to buy a .ke but you are feeling the overall cost is going to be so much, he is likely to tell you; this domain is so expensive, look at me, I operate a .com and its cheaper.
Maybe Kemibaro will say that he bought the domain ages ago and that is his brand, which is true but there is something they call redirecting to another page, which I think does not affect the original brand.
Maybe am harping on Kemibaro’s case and I should just let it go, but I thought its better to just use his example because he is famous πŸ™‚ but the point is the same if it was someone else.
Recently, my contact at Google made a comment that made more sense than anything else that day. I was writing about Kenya’s drive towards local content and the source argued that most of Africa’s domain registries view themselves as businesses instead of public service. In this respect, the source felt that domains should cost a dollar or two.
The argument was that if we are searching for content in Kenya, then the pages with .ke appear first on the page. So, if you were searching about registrars in Kenya, the ones who have .ke websites are likely to come first, though that depends on other tech factors, like there was a time one of my pages was not appearing on google and the techie was giving me a long story but he had not done it right.
So, buying a .ke has its advantages in the search but am sure you will find other posts on why you should buy domains useful.