High Internet penetration and the vibrancy of the .ke domain are among the factors that have seen Kenya ranked as the second most successful African market for the registration of web addresses.
South Africa was the only country that performed better, according to a report released by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) this week.
The study was the first of its kind to assess the state of the domain name system (DNS) market in Africa. DNS is used by the Internet to convert the names of websites (for example. Businessdailyafrica.com) into numeric IP addresses.
ICANN attributed the high performance in Kenya and South Africa to Internet ecosystems that are mature, relative to other countries on the continent.
“Domain name registration by African entities takes place mainly in countries where the local hosting industry and web development sector has developed sufficiently to create demand for local domains,” says ICANN.
The report focused on country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) which indicate an association with a specific country or sovereign state (for instance URLs that end in .ke indicate and association with Kenya).
Kenya and South Africa earned points for the state of their Internet infrastructure, data affordability as well as policies that have made it cheap and simple to register websites.
ICANN estimates that the African DNS market is worth about Sh5.4 billion ($52 million) and that it will grow at a rate of about 33 per cent. However, Africa has a ways to go before it can catch up with the rest of the globe.
The continent only accounts for about one per cent of generic top level domains (gTLDs) such as .com; .org; and .net.
Part of the challenge lies the overall challenges facing Internet access on the continent. Beyond this, there are countries that need to simplify the policies around registration and slash the associated fees.
Another way to drive the growth of African websites might be to promote content in local languages.