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Baseline Market Study on Domain Names in Africa

WFS profileICANN has initiated an in-depth study of the DNS ecosystem in Africa.

The study will identify the strengths and weaknesses in the DNS system in each country in Africa and will develop recommendations on how to advance the industry and bring it closer to the opportunities available. In simple words, to study the industry and then to advise how the industry can profitably grow. ICANN has engaged the Southern African Communications Forum (SACF) to carry out the study. They in turn, have assembled a team with deep experience of the African Internet environment.

In order to make this baseline study a success, we will require your input as set out below. This will help us to help you expand the domain name market in Africa for our collective benefit. 



The study aims to verify the commonly held assumption that there are about 1.5 million domain names registered under the 58 African TLDs, and will unpack this figure in order to better understand the distribution of domain registrations around the continent. African countries have had varying degrees of success in selling their domains to their citizens (and others), many of whom are registering under generic domains (gTLDs) such as .COM.

ICANN believes that an opportunity exists to boost the Domain Name industry in Africa, to the benefit of all role-players in the industry, citizens and governments of African countries.


The scope of the DNS Study, to be completed during the last quarter of the year, is as follows:

  1. Conduct a survey to gather relevant information about the African DNS Market. In the case of ccTLDs and 2LDs, collected information includes governance models and registry models.
  2. Develop a regional and country-based breakdown of domain name registrations, including ccTLD versus gTLD registrations; registrations by businesses, governments, non-government, research and academic, individuals, etc. The proportion of active domains will also be assessed.
  3. The study will assess the type of content hosted by the domains and the share of the sites that offer e-commerce services. Identifying whether this content is hosted within country or outside will also be a critical aspect of the assessment.
  4. The study will measure the growth rate of domain name registrations in the past five years (including Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) and look at the current market of local registrars and resellers for ccTLDs and gTLDs.
  5. Where possible the team will assess the current market of global registrars and resellers for African ccTLDs and gTLDs. This will include the user experience at local registrars and resellers (e.g. support for local languages, payment gateways, IDN support, and level of automation).
  6. Other issues that will be considered include:
    1. The factors hampering take-up of domain names (e.g. awareness, infrastructure, policy, and/or regulation, payment gateway).
    2. The current understanding of the concept of Premium Domain Names and how to develop this market.
    3. The best practices that have made an impact in domain name market growth including those related to business models, regulatory and governance mechanisms and consumer awareness, among others.
    4. The broader ecosystem of the Internet infrastructure and online services and its impact on the overall evolution of the domain name industry.
    5. Mechanisms to increase African participation in ICANN activities.

The study will also provide information on how to setup a DNS observatory in Africa. 

Survey Tool

To this end, the team has developed online survey tools for each role player category in four languages - English, French, Arabic and Portuguese. In addition, a DNS Zone File Analysis Tool has been developed to analyse a DNS zone file and return figures on: the number of active websites in the zone; where they are hosted; and what languages they use. The tool will be made available to any cooperating Registries and Registrars. The tool does not require any WHOIS lookups.

In the main, role players are encouraged to participate by completing the online survey, and for relevant agencies to make zone files available to us for analysis.

The survey tool is available for anyone involved in the DNS industry or that has registered a domain name: http://dnsafrica.study

The study is focussing on 6 key role players:

Registry       A Registry is an organisation operating a database containing domain name details. Typically the designated operator of the ccTLD (which is accredited by ICANN) and second level and perhaps lower level domains for that country. These may be operated by the same or different entities. 
Registrars       Organisations which register domain names on behalf of others. Often officially accredited by the Registry.
Registrants       People or companies with a domain name registered in their own name.
Resellers       Organisations who register domain names on behalf of Registrars or Registries.
Regulators       Those who are legally mandated to determine the policy and rules around domain name registration.
IXP Managers       Those who manage one or more Internet Exchange Points in a country. IXPs are an important measure of the development of the Internet in a country.


The team is ensuring that ICANN's Code of Conduct is observed in conducting the survey and that no spamming of third parties occurs. Team members are using either a personal contact, an introduction from a relevant party, or, publically accessible contact details, to recruit respondents. This blog post has been put together to encourage readers to fill in the relevant questionnaire. Having recruited a respondent, the responsible team members will follow up and help ensure that the respondent completes the relevant questionnaire/s. All respondents will be provided with access to the final report.

The SACF Team looks forward to co-operation from industry stakeholders in this important study. 

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