February 3, 2014 — Globally, it appears that everyone is looking forward to this week and the new Internet top-level domain names that will allow for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) such as .trade, .computer, .academy, and .international, to name a few. At NLIPW, we recently began exploring something a little different focusing mainly on the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Nigeria — what businesses and individuals must know before obtaining a .ng domain name. Here are some of the facts we found out:
1. Nigerian domain names (.ng) are regulated by the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA).
2. NIRA does not handle the registration of domain names directly. Registrations can only be done through NIRA Certified Registrars.
3. As at August 2013, NIRA had about 43 Registrars.
4. .ng domain names are classified into two groups i.e. the open and restricted categories.
5. The open category, as the name implies, can be acquired by anyone from around the world and it includes the .com.ng and the .org.ng domain name extensions.
- .com.ng – If you are interested in setting up a commercial website in Nigeria, then the .com.ng is your best bet. Companies such as GSK, Coca-Cola, Shell and MTN, have all secured .com.ng domain names.
- .org.ng – The .org.ng domain name extension is reserved for non-profit organisations in Nigeria.
6. The closed category includes four types of .ng domain names. This category is only open to qualified entities and these include:
- .gov.ng – Reserved for Federal, State and Local governments in Nigeria, and their Ministries, Departments and Agencies. For example, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), and Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), all have the .gov.ng domains.
- .edu.ng – Reserved for advanced academic and research institutions such as Universities, Polytechnics etc.
- .sch.ng – Reserved for other academic institutions such as primary and secondary or high schools in Nigeria.
- .mil.ng – Domain Names registered in the .mil.ng category are intended to be used only for military purposes by the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air force and their institutions.
- .net.ng – Reserved for network providers.
7. Only about 30,000 domains are currently registered in the .ng registry but according to a report by ThisDay, NIRA recently announced that it would give out 100,000 free domain names to Nigerians this year. It will be interesting to see the effect (if any) the new gTLDs will have on the number of .ng domain names registered in 2014.
8. The NIRA Domain name policy describes the rules for the registration and use of domain names within the .ng domain and its sub-domains.
9. NIRA does not offer Internationalised Domain Names for now and so domain names that start with the characters “xn--” (i.e. “xn” followed by two dashes) may not be registered.
10. A Third Level Domain may not be one Character long. For example, an application to register 1.com.ng or a.com.ng would be rejected. Except offered by auction at the second or third level.
11. For .com.ng, org.ng, and net.ng, a Third Level Domain may not consist of only two letters. For example, an application to register ie.com.ng, -a.com.ng or e-.com.ng would be rejected. Again as above an exception is allowed when offered by auction.
12. NIRA would not offer for auction any two letter acronym which is a validly registered trademark in Nigeria.
13. Currently Domain Names (e.g. internet.com.ng) may not be more than sixty-four Characters long in total.
13. According to the NIRA Domain name policy, NIRA reserves the right to withdraw a domain name if it is offensive first to the Nigerian community and then to the global community.
This article is intended to provide general information about the subject matter. Professional legal advice should be sought about specific circumstances.