This article is the first of a two-part series, paid for by .ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA).
A website makes possible the ever-increasing economic opportunities presented by the internet for SMEs across all industries – from eCommerce and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to digital marketing and online education, and more.
It all starts with a domain name which is an online identity that provides a platform to push your value offer to millions of online users.
“What COVID-19 highlighted is the need for a digital presence by every business,” says Molehe Wesi, CEO of the ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA), a statutory regulator with a mandate to regulate the .za namespace and ensure its efficient use, management and administration.
The benefits of having a website and domain cannot be underestimated for both new and established businesses, says Wesi, from helping to market your business and securing new customers to providing a channel to sell your products and services.
“There are over 36 million South Africans utilising the internet and within this 36 million a potential customer could be there to hear and see more about your business offering. The best way to reach out to SA’s online market is through a .za web presence, it grants your business credible online access.”
Wesi continues, “With a reputable online presence the following key processes are never interrupted; communication, sales and online transactions”.
If your website is the home of your business online, then a domain name is its online address.
Businesses can secure their online address by registering a .za domain name under co.za; web.za; net.za and org.za, which are .za commercial second-level domains (SLDs).
What business owners should be aware of is that not all websites are created equal and that there are even greater opportunities for local SMEs with .za domain names.
A .za domain makes your business locally relevant and through the Alternative Dispute Regulation (ADR) .za domain name holders are protected by the Intellectual Property Law.
The .za ADR guards against any form of domain name abuse such as a domain name that “takes unfair advantage of the rights” of your business or “is contrary to law or likely to give offence to any class of persons”. The South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law (SAIIPL) is an accredited dispute resolution provider of the .za ADR.
Protection of your business’s Intellectual Property online starts with protecting its online identity and reputation by registering your domain name.
It’s never been easier for entrepreneurs to get a .za domain. A collaboration between ZADNA, the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC) and the ZA Central Registry NPC (ZACR) makes it possible to register your business name and its equivalent co.za domain name at the same time.
“We encourage entrepreneurs to transfer their domain names to an active registrar as prescribed by the email sent to them post registration via the CIPC platform.
“We also encourage that when registering a domain name, one should ensure that the name is short for easy frame of reference for consumers to remember but remaining relevant to the business description.”
All CIPC .za registration procedures are listed on the ZADNA website here.
Getting your business online is the fastest and most effective way of promoting your business.
“There are over 500 accredited .za Internet Service Providers (ISP) to help with getting South African businesses online in the most cost effective way and our .za domain name registration process is fast and safe,” says Wesi.
The internet ecosystem is evolving in a manner that transforms the world and presents ever-increasing economic opportunities for the youth of South Africa whom are from previously disadvantage communities.
ZADNA offers digital entrepreneurs opportunities under the .za domain namespace by either becoming a Reseller or even a Registrar as part of their Registrar Reseller training program, which enables them to benefit from the digital economy.
Through this training ZADNA provides learners with information about opportunities that are available within the .za domain namespace such as providing domain name registration services to consumers.
“The ICT landscape is a ripe space for any optimistic entrepreneur because they can easily become a .za Reseller which subsequently equips them to become .za Registrar,” Wesi shares.
During the most stringent lockdown, between levels 5 and 3, ZADNA saw a high number of .za registrations.
“During this time .za registrations increased from 7 000 to 30 000 per quarter, proving the high demand for .za domain registration by SMEs. This is a clear sign that there is an appetite for domain name registration and that there is a digital market that entrepreneurs can tap into,” says Wesi.
In an effort to close the digital gap, combat digital exclusion and capacitate local SMEs to benefit from the digital economy, ZADNA is implementing a countrywide .za Domain Name Registrar-Reseller Development program for local startups, SMEs and the South Africans who aspire to pursue a business in the field of domain name registration.
Domain name Registrars and Resellers are Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that are authorised to provide domain name registration services.