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TLD, Registry, Registrar and Registrants, Policy

  1. TLDs: The Malawi .mw domain is a top level domain (TLD) on the Internet Domain Name System (DNS) sitting together with other TLDs like .com, .org, .uk, .za ... Each TLD is operated and managed by a registry operator. In Malawi .mw is operated by Malawi SDNP just as .com is operated by Verisign, .uk by Nominet, .ng by NIRA etc.

    The registry is the repository where Internet users or registrants register their domains like and specify their details which are then activated on the DNS for use for websites, e-mails, banking and other electronic transactions on the Internet, see

  2. Policy: The management of domains is guided by policy and, for TLDs, policy can be divided into international or global policy such as that under the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), as well as policy that is specific for and local to the registry of the TLD with its associated legal and regulatory framework. Such TLD specific policy is usually generated and used by those that manage and operate the registry together with its associated community.

    In Malawi this framework includes the Communications Act, the ICT Policy, the Electronic Transactions Bill when enacted. The registry specific policy at the .mw registry is managed by SDNP which started as a UNDP supported Malawi Government Programme and is now incorporated as a company limited by guarantee under the Malawi Companies Act.

  3. Upgrade at .mw Registry: The growing number of Internet user and services requires that registries should be robust and efficient. SDNP has reached the final stages of upgrading the .mw registry with the main aim to significantly increase automation, efficiency, security and introduce multiple registrars. This upgrade is from its current model of registry and registrants (2R) to the case of registry, multiple registrars and registrants (3R model).

    A registrar is an accredited legal entity that is designated to provide domain name registration services to other companies, persons or registrants that would like to own or already own a particular address on the Internet. By implementing the 3R registry system, SDNP is opening the registry operation to more players by introducing multiple accredited registrars who can connect to the registry in a secure manner supported by digital certificates. This is expected to increase competition in the DNS industry in Malawi as well as enhance capacity building in this new area of domain registrars that SDNP is opening up in Malawi.

  4. Historical DNS hierarchy: Above the TLDs is the root of the DNS managed by ICANN on the IANA function under a contract from the US government. The root is signified by the dot at the right of the TLD like It is ICANN under the IANA contract which delegates who runs each TLD under the root. Malawi SDNP is the one delegated to run the Malawi .mw country code top level domain (.mw ccTLD) under a contract signed with ICANN in 2002 witnessed by MACRA. In an attempt to further internationalize the IANA function, ICANN is managing the IANA Transition in a major international effort started by the US government. All this is well documented on the Internet and can easily be accessed with a quick good Google search or call to SDNP.
  5. DNS services people: When a person on the Internet wants to access something like the web page, the resolver on the user’s computer queries the root server for the .mw TLD and the root server DNS tells it to ask the .mw TLD as declared to IANA registry by SDNP, the .mw operator. The server chambo then gives to the user the name of the DNS server for as declared at the .mw registry by the RBM domain registrant when registering the domain The user then queries the RBM DNS server for the IP address like of Once the user gets that IP address then the user connects directly to the server running and accesses the RBM content. The .mw ccTLD registry and DNS hence form part of the critical Internet infrastructure. Registries and the DNS mediate between names like that people use and numbers like that people find hard to remember but which computers require to make connections on the Internet.

    For further details on this upgrading of the Malawi .mw ccTLD domain registry by SDNP to increase automation, security and introduce more players on .mw domains please see:

    Coordinator, Malawi SDNP
    Tel: 01874979 – 0882089166 - 0999888461