Zimbabwe Seeking To Bring .ZW Into The 21st Century

Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) logo

Zimbabwe’s ccTLD management is about to be brought into the 21st century with the government calling for public comments on a DNS Framework Consultation paper that was released Monday. The paper outlines the limitations of the current setup such as no single registry, no functional WHOIS, registrations are manual and difficulties in implementing security initiatives, no IPv6.

According to the paper published by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), “Zimbabwe does not have a DNS Policy in place. A DNS policy is an essential pierce of legislating that clearly defines roles or industry players, define standards to be set, and also define levels of security to be put in place by data processors.” The paper mentions “many countries with successful DNS implementation have DNS policies in place, South Africa included.”

The current set up for .zw is POTRAZ delegated the administration of the technical and operational aspects of the DNS in Zimbabwe to TelOne in 2004. TelOne acts as registrar and registry for .org.zw while other second level domains were delegated to the University of Zimbabwe (.ac.zw) , ZISPA (.co.zw) and GISP (.gov.zw).

“Currently, the paper notes, “in Zimbabwe every registry [has] their own DNS policies and that they use in registering domain names under their delegated SLDs. As a result, implementation of security measures depends on the willingness and capacity of each registry/registrar to implement their own measures.”

And while this has served .zw satisfactorily, there are some “weaknesses and shortcomings”. These include:

  • registration has remained manual and time consuming
  • the fragmented manner in which the DNS has been implemented has presented a lot of security loopholes affecting DNS availability and reliability with the implementation of DNSSEC a challenge
  • there is no functional WHOIS service
  • growth has been slow because there is no dedicated entity to make sure that DNS industry thrives

The paper also notes that Zimbabwe has the highest IPv6 usage in Africa, but not one .zw domain name utilises the protocol.

To help bring Zimbabwe’s country code top level domain into the 21st century, POTRAZ is planning on remaining the sponsoring organisation and selecting a registry operator for .zw. The new registry “will be responsible for the registry database and the supporting infrastructure of DNS servers, WHOIS systems and so on. It will implement the policies and processes defined by the ccTLD registry and Sponsoring Organisation.” The registry will then appoint registrars. POTRAZ is seeking comment on whether they should implement a registry solely set up for managing .zw and whether this body should be “part of government, outsourced, independent -externally regulated or independent-self regulated.”

The Consultation Paper On Domain Name System (DNS) Framework and .ZW ccTLD Management can be downloaded here [pdf]. Public comments are open until 9 August 2019.