Why Zimbabwe needs more .co.zw domains

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Speaking to the many tech entrepreneurs we meet locally, they all tell you they prefer registering .com domains over .co.zw. It is way easier, cheaper and faster the argument goes. “Why do I need to wait a couple of days just to get a domain registered?” is the question that follows.

We’ve tried to follow the issue to see exactly what the problem is with local domain registration. To find what makes it harder, more expensive and slower to register a local domain? We’ve had an interview with Troy Prinsloo, the current Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers Association (ZISPA) chairman. ZISPA is the organization in charge of the registration of domains in the .co.zw space. We’ve whined about the issue here a number of times.

We do this because we believe there should be more local businesses and individuals registering .co.zw domains. There are clear advantages to having more .co.zw than .com domains registered for local businesses. We list some of them here. You can add in your ideas in the comments section.

It’s good for search engine optimization. When a user Googles a search term from the google.co.zw website, Google prioritizes results from local .co.zw domains. This means a potential customer looking for a product will most likely find local suppliers of that product first, before they wade through a list of South African or global suppliers. Google defaults to the local Google domain when a user access the search engine from a country other than the US, so most searches done in Zimbabwe are from the local Google domain. It’s a no brainer for search engine optimization if you’re targeting the local market.

We’re losing money to foreign domain registrars. For every .com domain registered by a Zimbabwean individual or business, the money is paid to an international domain registrar outside Zimbabwe. Now considering the Internet is fast becoming an everyday tool for more than just the elite, we are losing money each day paying for domains that we can just supply ourselves locally.


Now some of you may say “but that’s just about $10 per domain. What difference does it make?” Well, It’s $10 per domain per year. It does make a huge difference. How many companies do we have locally, large, medium and small? How many brands? The difference continues to widen as internet penetration increases. Also add the fact that a person registering their domain internationally is likely to get their web hosting from the same international company.

Visibility and appeal to locals. While local domains appeal to search engines, they also appeal to people directly. A .co.zw domain makes a web address stand out. People associate .co.zw with relevance and they try to check it out when they see the address. They know whoever is creating content on that domain is doing it for the local visitors. This means a company mentioning their domain in a newspaper advert, on a billboard, or any other platform is likely to get more people visiting the site if it’s a local domain.

You can get a domain name that’s already taken on the .com space. Sometimes you want to get a specific domain name and you find it’s already taken on the international .com space. All the good ones are. Gadgets.com for example is taken already but gadgets.co.zw is not. Why not use the local one, especially when you know any Google search for gadgets locally will list your website first?

And last and definitely not least, National Pride.


  1. BestDev in Zim says:

    Very intelligible article- i am surprised that no “techies” have responded to this pertinent issue- well done.

  2. Clive says:

    The problem is that ZISPA behaves as if domain registration is rocket science. That way, then will be able to capitalize on domain registration fees. If it appears too easy, then their cash cow will disappear, but what they failing to get is that revenue that would have been meant for them is now going to offshore ISPs, if only they’d gotten thier act together. Catch a wake-up call ZISPA and stop behaving as if you are servicing a rural crowd. “Hakusi kumusha kuno”

    1. kthaker says:

      not true at all. apparently ZISPA do not charge for domain registrations at all, but rather survive off membership fees from ISP’s.

  3. Tired says:

    just let anyone register a domain don’t have to have a company to do so

  4. Benjy says:

    Country TLDs all over the world are gradually opening up their TLDs to outside companies.  .co.zw has slow uptake as its hard to take out a domain and near enough impossible if you arent a zimbabwean company.  Open it up to individuals, have a whois service so people can check what domains are free, automate the system so domains can be ordered electronically, then the local ISPs will make it easier for their customers to order domains.  Maybe this all costs more money to ZISPA and they might have to charge per domain to bring that revenue in.  Doesnt have to be much, less than ten dollars.

  5. drcool says:

    This guy wants us to register co.zw domains, but where is the incentive in a faltering economy? Who can be proud of our terrible economy?

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