The Guardian gets best online media website award

Member of Board of Trustees, Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA), Dr. Chris Nwannenna (left); Online Editor, The Guardian, Tonye Bakare; Head, Communications and Technology Desk, The Guardian, Adeyemi Adepetun and President, NiRA, Muhammed Rudman, at the NIRA 2018 .ng Awards in Lagos, where The Guardian won Best Online Media Website award and Best Supporting Media Partner… at the weekend. PHOTO: TIMILEYIN OMILANA

• NiRA declares newspaper best supporting media house
• Agency decries 80 per cent offshore data hosting

The Guardian was at the weekend honoured with two awards at an event organised by the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) in Lagos.

The newspaper got the Best Online Media Website Award, ahead of other nominees including The Cable, Pulse Nigeria, Naija Newspaper Media, New Reportage and Eyewitness Media Limited.

The Guardian also received the Best Supporting Media House Award for the propagation of the country’s top-level domain name, the .ng.

This is the fourth time in a row that The Guardian, a multi-media organisation, would be getting the awards which started in 2016.

According to NiRA, the .ng awards were judged based on the level of local, original and undiluted contents promoted by media houses and their websites.

The association said it believed in the power of the Internet and was determined that the .ng domain name space that “we are responsible for, has a positive impact on the lives of Internet users.”

NiRA President, Muhammed Rudman, said “the yearly awards are open to any organisation or individual whose activity online is outstanding, using the .ng domain name.”

Appreciating The Guardian and other award winners, Rudman said nomination and voting were at the discretion of the general public, ratified by a committee, which is made up of representatives from the NiRA community.

Rudman, who encouraged every Nigerian to register a .ng domain name, as it is the country’s identity online, noted that the name is indigenous and ranked first in the online search. According to him, the .ng domain is also universally accepted with a secure point-to-point local connection.

He said it had become highly imperative to develop Nigeria’s ICT infrastructure if the country must compete and rank among the best in the world.

The NiRA president disclosed that about 80 per cent of domain names registered in Nigeria are domiciled abroad. ‘’This is a big disincentive to Nigeria’s economy as huge capital is being lost yearly to those host countries,’’ he lamented.

According to him, continued offshore hosting of domain names will continue to rob the country of needed growth.

Though Rudman said there had been growth in the registration and adoption of the domain name lately in the country, he was, however, quick to say that the speed was still low. ‘’As such, we need more Nigerians to register and adopt .ng for their businesses and others to boost local content development in the country.’’

Indeed, The Guardian checks showed that as at the end of June, 2019 only about 140,709 domain names had been registered in Nigeria. It was 137, 523 in April and 139,200 in May this year. At the same time in 2018, it was 111, 146 in April; 114,308 in May and 118, 264 in June.

It was also learnt that some domain names put to use in Nigeria are hosted in USA, UK, Israel, Estonia, among others. The consequence is the capital flight running into millions of dollars that the country is suffering yearly.

According to Rudman, such unpatriotic attitude will continue to make Nigeria a net importer of online content, a situation that constitutes a huge disincentive to the economy, especially local content development.

A telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko, who spoke with The Guardian on the matter of offshore hosting, identified cost as one of the reasons businesses and some agencies prefer hosting their servers abroad.

According to him, it is cheaper to host abroad because power, security and bandwidth contribute to high cost in Nigeria.

Another factor he gave is the multiplicity of locations of server, where most of the hosting companies abroad provide multiple locations so that in case there is a disaster in one location, “They will move to another location without their customers suffering downtime.”

Rudman, who maintained that it would remain a disincentive to the economy to continue to host abroad, said it had become cheaper to register domain names in the country through NiRA.

He also said that with the avalanche of data centres in the country, including Rack Centre and MainOne-owned MDX-I and Galaxy Backbone, ‘’there should be no reason to host data abroad. It should be done locally.’’

The Director of Corporate Planning, National Information and Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Agu Collins Agu, who represented the director-general of the agency, said it had become critical for data to be hosted locally.

According to him, there is the need to move from technology adoption to adaptation if the country must progress. ‘’We must patronise what we produce,’’ he stated.

Agu revealed that NITDA was able to save the country over N12 billion in IT project clearance for ministries, departments and agencies by ensuring projects are not repeated or duplicated.

He said the government had developed specific ICT policies to attract and retain investment.

“At NITDA, we are implementing a roadmap that is aimed at transforming Nigeria into a knowledge-based society. The seven key pillars of our roadmap are IT regulation, capacity building, digital inclusion, digital job creation, government digital service promotion, local content development and promotion and cyber security. We are open to investment in any of these areas,” he said.

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