When in August 2002 Rwanda sent the first request to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to obtain the .rw domain name from NIC Congo-Interpoint, the operator that managed it at the time, it justified this request by saying that the operator "did not adequately serve the interests of any individual or organization not connected with our country." However, it was only ten years later, in September 2012, that it actually took charge of attributing .rw.
The .rw domain name (or, as it is technically known, country code top-level domain name - ccTLD) is now managed by Rwanda Information Communication and Technology Association (RICTA).
Why is this so important to Rwanda? "Countries all over the world are assigned a unique country code top-level domain name (ccTLD), which in our case is .rw," explains Peter Maridadi, CEO of ISPA, an internet service provider. "So it is a national asset and it is the responsibility of the government of Rwanda to assign somebody inside its territory, in order to respond to growing public interest in internet usage."
Asked whether local companies will benefit from selling the domain name, the expert, whose company will also sell the domain name to the public, said that "the business should not be selling domain names - but rather have many people and companies have easy access to it so that we do not lose a lot of money hosting them outside, and wasting a lot of bandwidth sending mails through servers hosted outside Rwanda."
According to CEO Geoffrey Kayonga, RICTA sells domain names only to registrars. Being the most expensive domain name offered by RICTA, they buy the .rw domain for $24 (tax-inclusive) per year. Registrars can then resell the name to anyone whishing to have a website ending in .rw, obviously adding their own fee to the price tag.
Those who in the past registered their .rw domain names with NIC Congo-Interpoint for free, they will be contacted by local hosting companies. "There's going to be an awareness campaign for the domain name so that registrants understand how it works. They have the right to choose the company they will work with for hosting their domain names," Kayonga explains.
Apart from the .rw domain name servers located at Telecom House, there are also backup servers in the USA, Sweden and South Africa - an assurance that the domain name can't go down for even a fraction of a second.
More information about how to become a registrar can be found here.