Friday, 28 January 2011

SZ – Swaziland (The landlocked domain)

Swaziland is a small Africa country entirely landlocked by the Republic of South Africa (a country within a country). Swaziland has, over the years, been devastated by HIV/AIDS, with one of the highest infection rates in world.

This country, like so many other African countries, desperately needs direct investment and job creation initiatives. A potential source of income is the Internet supported by the Swaziland gateway being the ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain) is a restricted ccTLD, which means a domain name can only be registered by a local Swazi company or citizen. In addition an application form needs to be submitted in original form, via a local Swaziland ISP, to the SZ Registry (SISPA – Swaziland ISP Association), which approves each application at a board meeting held once a month.

These restrictive registration requirements and procedures are counter productive and discourage local and foreign companies from registering domain names in Swaziland. Instead most tend to opt for gTLDs (such as .com or .net). Opening up the SZ ccTLD to the rest of the world could potentially result in the increase of domain name registrations and consequently much needed revenue for the country.

It is believed that SISPA is concerned that opening up the SZ ccTLD to all will increase infringements and online scams. This risk is real but mechanisms can be introduced to handles such issues. This can be done through the introduction of a dispute resolution procedure and take-down notices, which can be co-ordinated through SISPA.

Making a domain name registration more complicated than filing a trade mark is a substantial barrier to the growth of the Internet in Swaziland. More domains = more money = more jobs.

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