International domains popularity grows in Kenya as locals falterMonday August 22 2022
The number of Kenyans using international Internet domains rose by 52.2 percent last year, as companies sought to attract worldwide traffic to their websites.
The Economic Survey shows that the number of registered foreign second-level domains (SLD) increased from 2,579 in 2020, to 3,924 domains in 2021.
Preference for local ones fell from 101,123 to 94,526 during the period due to fewer subscriptions.
Mustafa Sheik, an Africa domain expert, says choosing the right kind of domain for a website has become incredibly important, and the shift to international domains is not only a Kenyan trend.
“The biggest reason is that Covid-19 inspired so many businesses to go online, but once they landed on the internet, they realised that it’s a global market and not the local one they’re used to. So they registered for more .com domains compared to .co.ke or .co.so, co.ng, co.ug or even co.za,” he says.
“There’s more publicity when you go global as the domain syncs better with Google indexing which gives your company better visibility on Google search. That’s an element of free branding,” Mr Sheik added.
Personal websites and e-mails led with the number of registrations at 63.7 percent (298 domains) followed by lower and middle institutions of learning whose registrations increased by 19.6 percent to 1,002 in 2021.
But, he says, the government websites and small businesses have continued supporting local domains.
“Most African domains are weak and score low in the global domain index because the internet reached here last. But we have the huge task of adopting more technologies, reducing the cost of the internet and ensuring political stability so our domains can get attractive,” he adds.
The drop comes after the number of registered Kenyan domains grew by 38.5 percent in 2020, at a time when companies were embracing digital platforms in the wake of Covid-19 restrictions.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data showed that a total of 101,123 local domains were established in 2020, up from 62,636 in 2016, representing a 38,487 increase.
According to the KNBS report, companies recorded the highest number of applications at 35,611 followed by government entities (243), institutions of higher learning (236), not-for-profit organisations (70), blogs (12), and lower and middle institutions of learning (five) in the period.
“Total registered Kenyan domains continued to increase for the fifth year in a row to stand at 101,123 in 2020,” it noted.
Some of the digital solutions that were adopted during the pandemic include e-commerce platforms, virtual consultations, tele-medicines, and remote working, among others, as firms aimed to reach their customers.
The growing use of virtual services is linked to Kenya’s high internet penetration and speed in the region. A report conducted by Speadchecker titled ‘Africa’s Mobile Network Champion’ showed that Kenya’s download speed topped the East African region at 10.66 mb/s, head of Rwanda (7.65 mb/s), Uganda (7.55 mb/s), Tanzania (6.95 mb/s) and Burundi (5.1 mb/s).
Despite high Internet speed and coverage in the region, data charges remain high, denying millions access.
A 2020 report by a technology think-tank, Research ICT Africa, 1GB Basket Statistics showed that Kenya is among East African countries with costly mobile internet data per 1GB.
The report revealed that Tanzania charges the lowest in East Africa at Sh218, followed by Rwanda at Sh220, Kenya at Sh244, Uganda at Sh273 and Burundi Sh302 as of September 2019.
The countries rank fourth, fifth, seventh, ninth and eleventh respectively in Africa with Egypt, which charges Sh121, leading the park.
“We must be seen as attractive destinations for investment. So attractive that a Canadian investor feels confident in registering their domain as co.ke just as they would when registering the .com domain,” Mr Sheik said.
“But the Communication Authority of Kenya just like here will need to spread this enlightenment to the local website developer community to get a message out clearly because this is a topic we always ignore.”