Domain Registration in Zambia is a Headache

domainsThe quest for a .co.zm is not as easy as we had anticipated. So remember how we said that it was difficult to register a domain because there was no readily available information online stipulating the process pertaining to domain registration et cetera. Well, it turns out that there is no readily available information on how to register a domain in Zambia over the phone, on email or even in person!

For the sake of providing our faithful readers with factual content and not just speculative opinions, we decided to undergo the process of registering a .co.zm domain using local ISPs. After numerous phone calls and emails, bus rides, cab rides and priceless times away from the office, not to mention the money spent running up and down, we finally have some credentials to a certain domain (TBA).

We originally started the process with iConnect by emailing them at domains@africonnect.co.zm and they replied almost immediately. However, when it came to executing the order, they went silent. So, I gave them a couple of days before calling to check on the status of our application. I spoke to a person who apologised for the delay and promised to check on the file and get back to me. He promised to call me back within 10 minutes. 10 minutes came and went with no call back.

Enter Zamtel, we filled in a form by scanning and sending it back and forth. It took a few days  to get feedback. Over 72 hours later, we were eventually told that our desired domain was available. Now, I was a bit discouraged by the fact that our feedback did not include “next steps”, for instance, where to pay or how to pay and what to expect. Additionally, there was a monthly fee of K120 per month for hosting, whereas, iConnect has an iHost Lite package where you only pay a one time registration fee while the hosting is free for up to 20 email accounts. Tomato Tomato… not really. The iConnect deal makes more sense regardless of how loyal one is to Zamtel.

Luckily, I was at Arcades Shopping Mall, a few days ago and decided to walk to the iConnect store. I was made to fill in a form there and advised our domain would be ready within 24 hours. “Progress!” at least so I thought. Next morning, I had to call to follow up on the 24 hours promise. Behold, I got confirmation- an email with the credentials. However, apparently the hosting was conditional on iConnect providing me with internet service. “Wait, what?!”

Essentially, the above statement amounts to tantamount illegality. Tied selling or conditional selling is a big No-No! But that’s a post for another day. Like I wasn’t dizzy enough from going round and round in circles, now I had to deal with demanding fair rights as a customer. How many times have you found yourself in a situation where you know what you want but you can’t get it how you need it? Supposedly, the way it works in Zambia is that you, the customer, are dictated what you need by the service provider. There is no tailoring it to your needs. It turns out ain’t nobody got time for that! Think about it? How many choices do you have for most services? Businesses don’t even compete to please the consumer any more. Have they ever? What happens is that a product is launched and we are naturally expected to come to terms with it. It’s like these businesses are saying, “here is what you deserve Mr./Ms. so and so, take it or leave it because if you’re not interested then the next person most likely is and you will eventually come back begging to have our service.” Sorry but mediocrity is not part of our vocabulary and it shouldn’t be for any customer. We all deserve the best and the best must be demanded. Ask and it shall be given, demand and it shall be supplied.

Anyway, so we got a hold of the Chief Operating Officer at iConnect to seek clarity amidst the very unnecessary madness. According to the COO, iConnect does not engage in tied or conditional selling. Apparently, iConnect’s C-Panel is all firewalled up and only allows iConnect IP addresses access for security reasons. This is to avert risks such as hacking, if everything was left up to the client. Erm… but how does GoDaddy do it? Well, if one insists on going another route with internet provision, it is possible to modify the settings for them such that iConnect can only host while using another ISP. Thank you Mr. COO for the enlightening clarification. We truly wish that the rest of your staff could simply explain this to customers at the first point of contact.

Despite this, however, we are not discouraged. By nudging and pushing we eventually got what we needed instead of running off to American based servers for hosting. This is our way of ensuring the money stays in Zambia and also advocate for better services. Therefore, if more clients registered their domains locally, I have no doubt that we are bound to see a significant improvement in this sector and many others as well if people don’t settle for what is shoved their way.

There you have it. Happy domain registration!

Image credit: MCT



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