In the debate about the challenges of domains in Africa, the issue of cost becomes a major talking point.
I have been accused of ripping Kenic and their policies on .ke; I pay Ksh 3000 about $ 40 for my domain, which I consider high. Yes. maybe I may be harping on the cost issue a bit but that has been the feeling of many people who have contributed via twitter and other forums.
So I decided it would be nice to look at the issue from a different lens; that of the administrators, just to understand why they charge the figure.
I spoke to Michuki Mwangi, the guy who set up Kenic and the first person who I heard saying that cost is not an issue a while a go. Michuki made very compelling arguments.
Sample this; the mama who sells vegetables at the local kiosk has a mobile phone that cost Ksh 2,500 and spend about Ksh. 500 on credit every month. Why? Because the mama finds value in the mobile phone and the credit spent brings returns.
Michuki’s argument is very clear that if we grow the value added services, then the cost of the domain is not the issue; make it worth the while and people will spend. If local electronic commerce is developed, just like the way mobile phones have grown, people will find it easy and effective to conduct business online and so long as returns are guaranteed, then cost will not be an issue per se.
Then there is the other side of the coin. Here is a response I got from Francis hook, who was commenting on the topic:
Lets examine the numbers…according the a recent economic survey, there are about 50,000 businesses in Kenya – all the way from KQ, KCB….to the small scale SMMEs….that’s 50,000…assume 5% of internet users (i.e. abt 5 million) want a .co.ke for whatever reason….and 5% is really stretching it…given a good chunk (say 50%) are students/young people/job seekers/etc doing FB, SN, IM, email, etc…. …anyway, thats 250,000 users. Lets say its 2.5% that is 125,000 plus 50,000 (and again we are assuming even that small chips shop on Ronald Ngala gets a domain…) – 175,000 x US$2 = US$ 350,000 @ ROE 75 = 26.2 million…
I am sure the debate on domains will go on, Lets hear different scenarios!