One of the best things to happen in the local internet ecosystem last year was name.co.zw. They solved a painful problem, in a very simple, standard way. Domain registration done online exists already in every country with self respecting techies, but it didn’t in Zimbabwe, hence the gratitude.
So anyway, for the first time, Zimbabweans in the Diaspora keen to build internet startups targeting Zimbabwe can have domain registration online and get it in minutes (or few hours at worst). It’s still possible, but a recent price development has probably dampened the excitement a bit for that folk. It now costs more, way more, to register a domain for a non-resident than it does for a person in Zimbabwe.
If you are a non-resident, you pay $35 and this has pushed registrars like name.co.zw to charge to $49.99 for people buying domains from outside the country. In comparison, name.co.zw charge resident Zimbos only $9.99. The $9.99 is based on a flat $30 that registrars pay to ZISPA monthly for all domains registered regardless of number. ZISPA by the way is the organisation charged with the maintenance of the ‘.co.zw’ namespace.
Why those outside the country are charged more, we have no idea. We asked ZISPA chairman Troy Prinsloo, and he wouldn’t say. He did say however that the $35 fee to non-residents has always been case, i.e. it’s no new development. We’re guessing implementation of the rule just wasn’t as tight.
Name.co.zw founder and CEO, Rushmore Mushambi told us recently:
When we registered as ZISPA members, our understanding was that we will pay the fixed monthly fee of $30 and register as many domains as we can irregardless of whether our clients are Zimbabwean or foreign.
This appeared to be the case at first as we managed to register a few domains for foreign clients (these were either Zimbabweans abroad or non-Zimbabweans with businesses here).
The problem surfaced when one of our repeat foreign clients tried to register 60 domains at once. This client had already registered 20 domains previously, without a problem. Jim, the ZISPA admin, thought this was unusually high and decided to consult with his board first. ZISPA then decided to charge us $35 for every domain registered by foreigners; the same amount they charge if foreigners try to register with them directly.
As a result, we are now charging $49.99 for foreigners and $9.99 for Zimbabweans
In comparison other African countries, South Africa and Kenya for example, either charge the same regardless where you are registering from or actually charge less (by taking out local tax component). Granted, there are probably a lot of countries too that charge non-residents more. We just can’t think of a reason for this? Just a way to make more money?
What’s your opinion? Should ZISPA charge non-residents more?