Players in Kenya’s telecommunications service industry are up in arms against a move by Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) to privatise KENIC, the dotKE domain manager without involving other stakeholders.
While KENIC has two guarantors, CCK and the industry lobby group Telecommunications Service Providers Association of Kenya (TESPOK), it is the latter which has been going through the headache of trying to manage and ensure sanity at KENIC.
TESPOK managers have in many instances had to make daily calls to KENIC managers calling for sanity when the board and management of the registry tried to run down the outfit through misuse of funds generated from domain sales. A case in point is when some KENIC board members and part of management decided to have the dotKE registry sponsor them and their spouses for a USA trip just because KENIC raised more revenue than they had expected.
TESPOK Chairman Mr. Kris Senanu says “the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) should not feel that they can proceed to change the operations of the organization without due consultations. The official proposed structure is currently open for public input and consultations; a process expected to close on 10th February 2014. He adds that at no point in time has the CAK communicated to TESPOK the other partner in this arrangement on the proposal to commercialise .ke as announced in yesterday’s Business daily.”
“If CAK attempt to take the commercialization approach without due consideration of TESPOK, we will have no choice but put ICANN on notice that any attempt at re-delegation does not have the support of the industry or any of the stakeholders.” says Mr. Senanu “We have no problem with CAK proposing another government entity to take up the government involvement but will not support commercialization.”
Re-delegation of domain administrative functions is a process which must go through ICANN’s (Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers) laid down procedures. ICANN is responsible for receiving requests for delegation and re-delegation of top-level domains (cTLDs), investigating the circumstances pertinent to those requests, and reporting on the requests.
In May 2000, a group of Kenyan Internet stakeholders led by TESPOK launched an initiative to form a participatory, community-based non-profit organization located in Kenya to manage both the administrative and technical aspects of the .ke ccTLD registry.
The result of these consultations was the Kenya Network Information Center (KENIC) Limited, organized under Kenyan law as a company limited by guarantee (a not-for-profit entity). In addition to performing the technical, administrative, and policy-setting functions for the .ke registry, a stated objective of KENIC is to “promote, manage and operate the delegated .ke ccTLD in the interest of the Kenyan Internet community and being mindful of the global Internet community interest in consistent with ICANN policies.”
Unfortunately, over the last five years interference of CCK in the day to day operations of KENIC has seen the organization experience unprecedented turnover of both Board and staff; with 5 CEO changes. The functions of KENIC have continued to be delivered because TESPOK maintained its commitment to the local industry as per the ICANN Agreement to provide technical and logistical support to the .ke manager. It is important for CAK to give the .ke ccTLD manager the opportunity to deliver on agreed key deliverables that have not been met in the last five years. Commercialization is not a solution to meeting the identified and agreed industry gaps within the local internet community.
TESPOK has both the technical and administrative resources necessary to continue as a sole guarantor of the ccTLD if and when CAK pulls. It has provided such support in the past. This will evidently lead to consolidating the Internet technical community shared resources under one umbrella body; a move very similar to, the consolidation of the various government agencies handling government ICT deployment and implementation under the Kenya ICT Authority. The scenario would then consolidate KENIC (the .ke manager), KIXP (Africa’s fastest growing Internet Exchange Point) and I-CSIRT (Internet Computer Security Incident Response Team) under the TESPOK stewardship.