CCK set to duel with IANA/ICANN over .ke closure plans

Few weeks ago, I got information that KENIC, the .ke registry was set to be wound up or sold. The first reaction was that the person was joking, given that KENIC is a multi stakeholder body, and it was not in debt.

When I think of a multistakeholder body, I think of the coffee society or the cattle dip. How can anyone sell? The place can go broke but how can anyone sell? It belongs to the community.

Upon investigations, the information was right. The communications commission is intending to break it up and sell to the highest bidder. I wrote a news item to that effect and you can read it here.

The upshot of it that CCK sees itself as the real owner of the .ke domain together with TESPOK,  the Telecommunications Service Provider Association. Apparently the power vests it both of them.

There is no question that the .ke domain has gone to the dogs, you have to look at yesterday’s Africa Domain awards, South Africa and Tanzania reigned supreme, Kenya is nowhere to be seen or heard. Tanzania came to Kenya in 2005 and studied the model for running their .tz ccTLD. Now they have perfected the model and are runners up to South Africa. How now?

Think, KENIC has 28,000 domains, selling @ $35 how much is that? Even if they were to sell the domains @ $10 that is still $ 280,000 and they don’t pay rent.  Yet the board insisted on firing competent guys by slashing their salaries and replaced them with….well…. if the frequent outages is anything to go by….you know what it means.

To some extent I think CCK is right in wanting to reduce the cost of domains and reign on the errant board (the things I have heard, if I wrote I would be accused of malice, well, maybe I am already being accused but hey..). Maybe the folks at CCK want more secure and affordable domain but it this the best way to go?

There is a small problem that is IANA, the ICANN organ charged with management of the whole internet and ensuring it remains stable and end users are not affected. What happens if the tender goes to a company that has no experience in running a registry and in the process switches off What will happen if the company decides to hell with $35 and charges $100?


So, what/who is IANA?

“The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions contract (SA1301-12-CN-0035) between ICANN and the United States Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) to maintain the continuity and stability of services related to certain interdependent Internet technical management functions, known collectively as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority calls for a public consultation from all interested and affected parties to help satisfy the following objective:

C.2.8 Performance Standards — Within six (6) months of award, the Contractor shall develop performance standards, in collaboration with all interested and affected parties as enumerated in Section C.1.3, for each of the IANA functions as set forth at C.2.9 to C.2.9.4 and post via a website.”

As you can see from the excerpt from the IANA website, it is tasked by the US government to ensure that we all adhere to the rules. The IANA function is then contracted to ICANN. You can read more about it in an article I did sometimes back.

It is funny that CCK thought that the Kenyan law overrides the US law and that the enactment of the Kenya Information and Communications Act would keep away the requirements from IANA/ICANN.

For any change in the administrative or technical contact, IANA must be involved in a process known as redelegation. This is what IANA says:

“The process for changing the designated manager(s) of a ccTLD is known as redelegation.”

What would be the processes for .ke delegation or redelegation?

“The steps for delegation and redelegation involve preparation of an initial request via a Change Request Template. In addition to the Change Request Template, supplementary information is required to show that the request meets the eligibility criteria. ICANN uses this information to corroborate the delegation or redelegation request. This documentation includes:

  • Information showing the request serves the local interest in the country;
  • Documentation demonstrating the technical and administrative capabilities of the organization receiving the delegation;
  • A description of the legal status of the organization;
  • The names of contacts in any in-country government agencies who have a say in the delegation/redelegation;
  • A detailed description of how existing ccTLD operations will be transferred to the proposed new operator, in the case of a redelegation;
  • Documentation showing that the new operator will operate the domain in a fair and equitable manner; and,
  • The approvals of the current contacts for the TLD, in the case of a redelegation.”



How long does this process take?

The shortest time the process can take, and that is assuming there are no objections is 9 months. If anyone objects, then it can take years. Is this what we want? You can read about basics of redelegation here.

How was KENIC formed anyway?

I have taken time to go through the redelegation notes and here is an except:

“In May 2000, a group of Kenyan Internet stakeholders 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. Since October 2001, there have been broad-based consultations and research led by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), with the participation of stakeholders including the Telecommunications Service Providers Association of Kenya (TESPOK), the East Africa Internet Association (EAIA), Kenya Information Society (KIS), Kenya Education Network (KENET), the Computer Society of Kenya, the Institute of Computer Science, the Kenya Health Information Network, the Network Operators Association, Telkom Kenya, the Kenyan government’s Directorate of Information Technology Services, and the National Task Force on Electronic Commerce (NTF-ecom).

The result of these consultations was the Kenya Network Information Center, Limited (KENIC), 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.”

Through the KENIC website, open mailing lists, Steering Committee and other organizational meetings, and public forums, the KENIC organizers undertook to develop technical and administrative plans, and to take input from and build support within the Kenyan Internet community. By mid-2002, the KENIC organizers has completed KENIC’s Memorandum & Articles of Association, and prepared and circulated for review and comment a draft annual budget for registry operations and a draft set of registration and administrative policies. Through the Computer Society of Kenya, an open membership organization, the organizers undertook a public awareness campaign aimed at increasing the involvement of individual and organizational Internet users in KENIC.”

You can read the whole redelegation report here. This was a protracted tussle, starting with Shem Ochuodho refusing to hand over .ke management to a more inclusive body. It makes very interesting reading.

Maybe we should explore which registry operations work and why. Before Kenya ICT community adopted this model, they had conversations with registry operators from Brazil and Australia and settled on a multistakeholder that includes all sectors.

What changed?

Kenyan Domain Loses Bragging Rights

When you think of technology development in East Africa, you think of Nairobi as the hub, the lead city. Internationally, this is the case, the PR and hype we have done is great, it makes Nairobi as the first stop for investors, techprenuers, idlers, graduates, those with companies that have failed elsewhere, venture capitalists and tech writers among others.

Truth is, Nairobi is great place; for both locals and international experts. I am sure travel blogs have listed all these issues, so I will not bore you with the details, i will just bore you with details of other kind 🙂

Last week, I wrote an article on how DNS Security Extension has been implemented in the region. In east Africa, Uganda and Tanzania lead the way, Kenya is nowhere near there. If interested, you can read more about DNSSEC from ISOC and a report by ICANN showing all the country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) that have implemented.

“The DNS is the phone book of the internet, translating names that people can remember into numbers that computer networks require in order to communicate. DNSSEC is a set of security protocols that fix fundamental vulnerabilities in the DNS. 

With DNSSEC, internet users know for sure that their web and email communications reach the server that they intended, and are not hijacked by an attacker to steal personal or confidential information.”- Secure64

DNSSEC became more popular in 2008 when Dan Kaminsky found a vulnerability on the DNS, some ISPs in Kenya were affected, and this improved the level of awareness as well as implementation.

DNSSEC secures against identity theft, online fraud, domain hijacking etc. Remember the time some Kenyan bank websites had been hijacked and were redirecting elsewhere? Imagine if online banking has grown that much in Kenya, the way mobile money has, it would have been a different story.

So what?

Globally, implementation is still slow but it was expected that countries with fewer domains, like the ones in Africa, would be quick to implement but so far, only about five countries have implemented, and two of them are in East Africa.

Just a bit of history, Kenya was the first country in the region to get back its .ke domain, in a process known as redelegation, it was also the first country to set up its domain registry, Brazil was instrumental in training the first registry admin, around 2003 or there a bouts. The other countries set up their registries later.

For the longest time, .ke was involved in training on anything TLD related, if there were continental training; AfNOG, AfTLD etc that related to registry operations or management, most likely Kenic would be involved.

Well, that all changed at some point because when it comes to DNSSEC training, Tanzania is now taking the lead by sending trainer (s) at the continental meetings. This is a good thing, means the region is growing in terms of tech and innovation.

But why is .ke not up there with .ug and .tz?

Kenic had had its issues and you can read more here

To be fair, I spoke to Anthony Wambugu,  Kenic CEO, about three weeks ago and wanted to know the progress they have made with DNSSEC. He promised to send me the info, and I am still holding out for that. Even though you can see the DNSSEC status from the ICANN report, which is done periodic and captures whatever stage it is.

So, for a registry that seemed to have gotten it right so long ago, where did Kenic get overtaken by Uganda and Tanzania in terms of technical progress?



What are the benefits?

Apart from the benefits covered in the articles above, if the domain registry, (ccTLD) has implemented, it means other domain owners can now start implementing, which will help e-commerce. I must admit that there are other reasons that e-commerce hasn’t picked up and this may help an inch.

If the registry management has DNSSEC trainers, it means training locally is easier and ISPs can organize their own trainings with the help of the registry (Kenic) but this is not the case.

Ideally, the push to implement DNSSEC is led by big ISPs that want to use every avenue to market. But the ISPs or the tech department must also have a clue about global trends.

To assess the level of awareness, you start with Safaricom  the biggest ISP, with $20million invested in a cloud service, the largest Telecoms company in East and Central Africa, (you can insert other titles here).

I got in touch with Thibaud Rerolle, the IT director at Safaricom, to try and understand why Safaricom has not taken any step towards DNSSEC, like other ISPs in Africa, that can at least validate DNSSEC.

Well, let us just say that Safaricom needs to send its techies for those DNSSEC trainings.

Maybe Kenya doesn’t need tech developments to maintain its position as the lead tech destination but as we bask in the glory, its nice to acknowledge that other countries are forging ahead 🙂


Kenic Publishes .Ke Registrar and Domain Numbers

About a month or so ago, Kenic, the .ke domain administrator shared the numbers that the registrars were pulling in. This was in a marketing campaign meant to increase the number of domains.

The list was shared to all the registrars and I guess anyone who was interested. To me it looked like name and shame but when I spoke to Anthony Wambugu, the new Kenic CEO, it was a way to motivate the registrars.

I said thanks to Wambugu and team for sharing this list because in many occasions, people close to the Kenic board say “I sell so many .ke domains” and when I look at the list, it is such a shame.

I also had a chance to visit Kenic offices and hear of how the .ke has changed, the plans for the future etc…. Yes, they have changed, at least I got some tea and samosa 🙂 and for the other aspects, it remains to be seen.

The team seemed eager to prove that Kenic is way better. They kept on saying how the online reputation was bad, courtesy of some bloggers and with a straight face I asked “who are these bloggers?” and I got a silent stare from the marketing manager 🙂

Before I digress to other things…… first enjoy the numbers…..

2013 Monthly TGT
2013 Weekly TGT
1 EACdirectory 2042 4000 333 83
2 Limited 1296 3000 250 63
3 Sasahost Limited 1104 2000 167 42
4 Safaricom Limited 913 2000 167 42
5 Webhost Kenya Ltd 887 2000 167 42
7 deepAfrica Co Ltd 347 1000 83 21
8 Kenya Website Experts 273 1000 83 21
9 AccessKenya Group 156 500 42 11
12 Kenyaweb Hostmaster 147 500 42 11
13 Afriregister Limited 142 500 42 11
14 Mambo Microsystems 119 400 33 8
16 Greenbell Communication Ltd. 117 400 33 8
17 Jambo Telkom LTD 117 400 33 8
18 Get Online Hosts 116 400 33 8
19 Intrepid Data Systems 116 400 33 8
20 Wananchi Online Ltd 106 400 33 8
21 iWay Africa Kenya 79 300 25 6
22 Imagine Brands 77 300 25 6
23 CNETGLOBAL 74 300 25 6
24 Kenya Softnet Ltd 74 300 25 6
25 Nairobinet Online Ltd 72 300 25 6
26 Aplin 71 300 25 6
27 Blueprint Technologies 71 300 25 6
28 Yengas Technologies 69 300 25 6
29 Heartbit Computer Solutions 66 300 25 6
30 Shine Web Technologies Ltd 57 200 17 4
31 Swift Global LTD 55 200 17 4
32 Callkey Networks Ltd 51 200 17 4
33 Infoken Solutions 49 200 17 4
34 Gempack Dot Net Enterprises 48 200 17 4
35 ICT Consultants Limited 48 200 17 4
36 Government Information Technology Services 46 200 17 4
37 Arise Online Ltd 45 200 17 4
38 Peak and Dale Solutions 35 200 17 4
39 Ignite Africa Limited 34 200 17 4
40 Packet Central Technologies 34 200 17 4
41 RevWebolution Business Solutions 33 200 17 4
42 Massive Dynamic 31 200 17 4
43 JBA Advertising Co ltd. 30 200 17 4
44 Kenya Webhosting 29 200 17 4
45 Xpressive Advertising and Design 27 200 17 4
46 Digital Horizons Ltd 26 200 17 4
47 Globefinity Systems Ltd 25 200 17 4
48 Dotsavvy Limited 23 200 17 4
49 Kenya Data Networks 23 200 17 4
50 MTN Business 23 200 17 4
51 WebSoft Development 23 200 17 4
52 Transworld Computer Channels 22 200 17 4
53 Visual Pixel Systems 22 200 17 4
54 Kenya Education Network 21 200 17 4
55 Palm Online Systems 21 200 17 4
56 Domain Masters 20 200 17 4
57 Geda Limited 20 200 17 4
58 GELATI Limited 20 200 17 4
59 mbambu ltd 20 200 17 4
60 MIH Internet East Africa 20 200 17 4
61 secunets Technologies 20 200 17 4
62 Ajibu LTD 17 200 17 4
63 Dynamic World Technology Ltd 17 200 17 4
64 Ecobiz 17 200 17 4
65 Intersurf Communications Ltd. 17 200 17 4
66 Messaging Labs Africa Solutions 17 200 17 4
67 Starnet Solutions 17 200 17 4
68 Swiftweb Technologies Ltd 17 200 17 4
70 Web Host Africa limited 16 200 17 4
71 Extra IT Solutions 15 200 17 4
72 Ideas Africa Ltd 15 200 17 4
73 Infiniti Software Solutions Ltd 15 200 17 4
74 Softlink Chain LTD 15 200 17 4
75 Metrocomia East Africa 14 200 17 4
76 Footprint Computer Solutions Limited 13 200 17 4
77 SasaHivi Media Ltd 13 200 17 4
78 Xtranet Communication Ltd 13 200 17 4
79 Creative Edge Ltd 12 200 17 4
80 Cyberworld Internet Solution Providers 12 200 17 4
81 WEB TRIBE LIMITED 12 200 17 4
82 Asterisk Technologies 11 200 17 4
83 Computer Doctors 11 200 17 4
84 Domains Kenya Ltd 11 200 17 4
85 Four99 11 200 17 4
86 Jamii Telecommunications 11 200 17 4
87 Lexsynergy Kenya Limited 11 200 17 4
88 Logic Outsource Limited 11 200 17 4
89 WebRunner Limited 11 200 17 4
90 3mice Interactive Media Ltd 10 200 17 4
91 Alphagen Limited 10 200 17 4
92 MyISP Limited 10 200 17 4
93 Digital Vision EA Ltd 9 200 17 4
94 J.S. ENGINE 9 200 17 4
95 K.I.O.S.K. Limited 9 200 17 4
96 Loksons 9 200 17 4
97 Safenames Kenya 9 200 17 4
98 Sahannet Ltd 9 200 17 4
99 Tangerine Ltd., 9 200 17 4
100 Alence Solutions Limited 8 200 17 4
101 CompEdge Solutions Ltd 8 200 17 4
102 Mackphilisa Systems 8 200 17 4
103 Pwani Telecomms Ltd 8 200 17 4
104 Samnet Africa Limited 8 200 17 4
105 Web Dynamics Limited 8 200 17 4
106 Internet Solutions Kenya Ltd. 7 200 17 4
107 ITwenty Seven Ltd 7 200 17 4
108 Ace Solution Africa Ltd 6 200 17 4
109 Aja Limited. 6 200 17 4
110 6 200 17 4
111 Espawebstars Enterprises 6 200 17 4
112 Exemplar Technologies Limited 6 200 17 4
113 Flametree Systems Engineering 6 200 17 4
114 Flex Solutions 6 200 17 4
115 HASOFT KENYA 6 200 17 4
117 Muva Technologies Ltd. 6 200 17 4
118 Overdrive Consultants Ltd 6 200 17 4
119 Sayari Communications Ltd 6 200 17 4
120 Scalable Wizards 6 200 17 4
121 WEBKRAFT KENYA LTD- wkl2 6 200 17 4
122 Wunderman Nairobi 6 200 17 4
123 Brand Consultants Ltd 5 100 8 2
124 Comtel Systems Ltd 5 100 8 2
125 Mindgem Concepts 5 100 8 2
126 Pure Concepts Ltd 5 100 8 2
127 Satori Solutions 5 100 8 2
129 Sumatran Technologies Solutions Co. Ltd 5 100 8 2
130 Zote Telkom 5 100 8 2
131 4 100 8 2
132 ARK CREATIVE LTD 4 100 8 2
133 FortisCL 4 100 8 2
134 frepactech – Danson pasi seet 4 100 8 2
135 Interactive Technology Ltd 4 100 8 2
136 ITworX Limited 4 100 8 2
137 Linux Solutions Company 4 100 8 2
138 Monshasha Technologies 4 100 8 2
139 Newsline Media Productions 4 100 8 2
140 Nouvelles Images 4 100 8 2
141 Onpoint-IT Solutions International 4 100 8 2
142 Sisi Communications Limited 4 100 8 2
143 Smile Telecom Solutions Ltd 4 100 8 2
144 TEXADA LTD 4 100 8 2
145 Way Forward Technologies 4 100 8 2
146 Beninda Dot Com 3 100 8 2
147 Converged Media Solutions 3 100 8 2
148 eazywiz web solutions 3 100 8 2
149 iridiumInteractive 3 100 8 2
150 Jaynet Telecoms Ltd 3 100 8 2
151 My Kenyan Host 3 100 8 2
152 PrimeSoft Solutions (K) Ltd 3 100 8 2
153 Skyprime Solutions 3 100 8 2
154 Tuseme Africa Ltd 3 100 8 2
155 Voneo Media Group 3 100 8 2
156 ZAMOYA.COM LTD 3 100 8 2
157 Allied Technique Inc 2 100 8 2
158 Chui Technologies 2 100 8 2
159 Cyber Dream 2 100 8 2
160 Francis Montet 2 100 8 2
161 Kenya Network Information Centre 2 100 8 2
162 MobiKash Afrika Ltd 2 100 8 2
163 Pensoft Systems Limited 2 100 8 2
164 Sentinel Systems ltd 2 100 8 2
165 TechDirect Solutions Ltd 2 100 8 2
166 Twenty Four Interactive 2 100 8 2
167 Eighty Four Inspired (84Inspired) 1 100 8 2
168 Frontier Optical Networks 1 100 8 2
169 ITech Solutions Ltd 1 100 8 2
170 Knowledge Technology Ltd 1 100 8 2
171 LANet Consulting 1 100 8 2
172 Mzoori LTD 1 100 8 2
173 Octopus ICT Solutions LTD 1 100 8 2
174 Online Kenya Technologies 1 100 8 2
175 Quintica Kenya Limited 1 100 8 2
176 TraceSoft Limited 1 100 8 2
10875 47000 3929 959

Update: Kenic AGM set for Friday 24th Aug. at Panafric

Kenic has set its Annual General Meeting for Friday this week, to rubber stamp the board’s decision to fire all employees and start afresh.

Contrary to past practices where the AGM comprised of registrars, government, internet businesses and basically anyone interested in domain issues, this one will be a closed door session, open only to parties that play nice and don’t ask questions.

The meeting comes after a stormy two months for the .ke country code Top Level Domain registry, where board members have left and a change manager appointed to run the affairs.

Kenic was constituted as a multi-stakeholder body, where all parties concerned with the critical internet infrastructure would have equal say. Maybe the idea of .ke being critical doesnt sink in but can you imagine if failed to work for a day because someone deleted it by mistake or deliberately? No filing of returns, clearing and forwarding services and all other services that we enjoy at the click of a mouse.

The Permanent Secretary in the ministry of information and communication, Bitange Ndemo says he was blindsided by Kenic board’s decision to fire all staff but more facts will emerge after the AGM.

I wonder whether there will be security guards to keep other people from attending 🙂

Technical services handed to TESPOK

When the cracks at Kenic started emerging, TESPOK tabled its proposal to run technical services for Kenic. Indeed, immediately Kris Senanu took over as TESPOK representative on the board, his first order of business was to address the proposal. Details are contained in my previous post.

In retrospect, TESPOK must have foreseen that at some point, Kenic will come to such a position and TESPOK expertise will be needed. That is what happened. After the technical staff were let go, they were asked to send passwords to TESPOK, who are now in charge of technical functions at Kenic.

This was expected because its not like any other aspect of tech. That part of the resource is scarce. I am not sure there are many techies who you can call one morning and say, “hey, come in this morning and run the registry, deletions are this time, DNS updates that time,” and the person will hit the ground running. I may be wrong but they may need experience in such settings.

I guess much of the details on who handles the technical functions, whether the open multistakeholder model continues and leadership direction will come out after the AGM.



Kenic CEO fires first salvo at govt, terminates all employees

In a strange move, Sammy Buruchara, change manager, acting CEO (etc) at Kenic, the .ke registry, has issued termination letters to three employees on the payroll, in a move likely to cause friction within the government.

The move comes barely a week after Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary in the ministry of information and communication announced plans to increase government influence at the Kenic board.

Now, the board and the CEO seem to have pulled the rug on Ndemo’s intentions, because if there are no employees, what will the board be doing, therefore nullifying Ndemo’s intention.

To digress a bit, this is not the first time Kenic has defied the PS. Last month, Kenic undertook to sponsor and foot the cost of Kenya IGF under a body constituted by the PS. After the event, Buruchara threw a tantrum and said he can not pay because the Kenya IGF committee formed by the PS had no legal standing. Apparently the agreement was that Kenic would pay suppliers directly but the promise was reneged. The event was held at Jacaranda and one of the organizers, Grace Githaiga, is at a loss, wondering how to pay Ksh. 130,000 as the stand off between the Kenic board and the PS continues.

Anyway, back to the employee termination story, the excuse is that so many of these actions are being taken after the institutional assessment, I have read the document and this is what it says…..

“Based on the findings, the following recommendations were made:

  1. Review the strategic plan to make it SMARTER and include pertinent chapters that were missing; Align the budget, organizational structure and systems to the Strategic plan
  2. Develop a marketing strategy for ease of implementation of the strategic plan.
  3. Review existing policies (Human Resource, Finance, Procurement & Information Technology) in alignment to the laws of Kenya and corporate best practise. Design Business continuity and Risk Management policies and procedures.
  4. Review board charter and align it to the Memorandum and Articles of association and corporate best practise. Review KeNIC’s stakeholders and bring on board, stakeholders who will add value to KeNIC and support it deliver on its mandate.”

Now, I do not understand why the board would terminate all employees, its not like .ke registry is a matatu where you fire a driver in the morning and immediately get another one to replace. How do you get a system admin to run the registry, learn and run its back ups etc.

According to the Institutional Assessment, “the Kenic board reviewed the staff salaries in 2011 and provided increments of 32%,50% and 38% for staff in grade M1,M2 and M3.It is not clear how this increments were arrived at though the Board’s aim was to incentivise the staff to perform in implementing the strategic plan.”

I have read the document and I cannot see the recommendation that all employees should be terminated, how about business continuity? I have written to Buruchara asking for further info on the contingency plan but he hasn’t responded, as soon as he does, I will copy paste the response 🙂

Just to be clear, Kenic has three (3) full time employees and a board of Seven (7) members to oversee the operations 🙂

Here is the Institutional Assessment of the growth in the past nine years…

 .Ke Domain Names Growth

Year Domains Growth % growth
2003 2218
2004 2961 743 33%
2005 3733 772 26%
2006 5625 1892 50%
2007 6600 975 17%
2008 10000 3400 51%
2009 12,200 2200 22%
2010 15300 3100 25%
2011 20061 4761 15%

On a separate note, TESPOK has proposed to take over technical operations at Kenic. Here is the proposal brief on what Kenic and TESPOK responsibilities will be.

KENIC will attend to the following responsibilities:

  1. Act as a trustee for the .ke country-code-top-level-domain
  2. Become the .ke domain administrative contact
  3. Oversee the administration of the .ke ccTLD and its Second Level Domains
  4. Ensure a cost-effective administration of the .ke ccTLD and its subdomains
  5. Notify the Internet Corporation of Names and Numbers (ICANN) of any change to the contact information about ccTLD
  6. Allow ICANN to access .ke zone files and registration data (up to date development).
  7. Ensure appropriate billing and collections for all domains registered under .ke
  8. Outsource the technical operations of the .KE registry
  9. Conduct periodic audits of the system and financials

TESPOK will be responsible for:

  1. Provide Domain name Registry services for all .ke, and ensure that the database is secure and stable
  2. Maintain and promote the operational stability and use if the .ke ccTLD
  3. Manage system operations, upgrades, implement new features and technologies as well as technical changes to the .ke database as instructed by KENIC at no additional costs to KENIC
  4. Provide the technical back-end solution for .KE DNS, WHOIS, Network Security, Data Escrow and Billing
  5. Provide appropriate skill sets and expertise to handle the .ke technical requirements
  6. Avail all relevant information to facilitate decision making as and when required by KENIC

Resignation, chaos at Kenic as former board member takes over

Kenya Network Information Center (KENIC), is never short of drama. There seems to be something very wrong but no one seems to have the right answer; over the last month, three board members have resigned and the chair is said to be on the way out.

Over the same month, former board member Sammy Buruchara took over as the CEO or  “change manager” and there was mixed reactions over the turn of events. It is not clear whether resignations of Aly Hussein, Moses Kemimbaro, and Lucky Waindi have anything to do with the turn of events or whether Alice Munyua’s, (chair) unhappiness has anything to do with it, but something is not right.

Kenic is the administrator of the .ke domain with over 20,000 domains. You can read other stuff I have written about Kenic here. Kenic is a multi-stakeholder body, and one of the key components is the registar community. Kenic doesn’t sell domains directly to the public, it is through registrars.

Kenic has three permanent staff, two interns and the board is comprised of seven members. The board draws a sitting allowance of $100 per session. Seven people to oversee a staff of 3 and 2 interns?

So, what is the problem?

Buruchara has served as Kenic board member for about seven years, two years as board chair  but resigned to take over as CEO. ISPs are a part of Kenic and Buruchara was on the board representing the Telecommunications Providers Association of Kenya (TESPOK). Buruchara was in TESPOK as a representative of Nairobinet

Buruchara’s appointment as CEO has caused a fallout at TESPOK because apparently it was never communicated on time that he was resigning as board member to take up the new position. TESPOK felt that its interests were droppped once the employment opportunity presented itself. Kris Senanu has since taken over as TESPOK representative in the board.

Buruchara’s actions were seen as selfish but he says there is nothing wrong with what he did and he is acting in the best interest of the organization that has had to abandon its five year strategic plan after realizing that the plan has major gaping holes and is not addressing the issues.

Industry players are wondering whether Bururuchara will manage Kenic and at the same time run Nairobinet, does it mean he is giving up on his company or will take over the two roles in the meantime?

Question or registrars

I spoke to Buruchara and he insisted that registrars are a major component of Kenic and it was beneficial for Kenic to be ran by one of their own. Nairobinet is a registrar, Buruchara feels that it is good for the industry that one of their own is running Kenic and doesnt see any conflict or favoritism towards his company.

Sammy Buruchara

Other registrars disagree and feel that it was only proper to appoint a neutral party while others feel that it is ok for one registrar to take over, maybe the registrars can take turns in running Kenic, seeing as they best understand the business model and other industries represented at Kenic have no clue.

Maybe Kenic will also allow its employees to start running their registrar businesses on the side, after all, they understand the business better 🙂

I am just imagining what would happen if Orange or Safaricom took over at the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), after all, they understand the business better and have always had issues with frequency, pricing etc. It may seem like comparing apples and oranges but will discuss the regulatory aspects below.

Katundu question

Michael Katundu has been Kenic board member for more than 10 years and is in charge of technical developments at Kenic. He represents CCK. Well, I have my issues with the technical and training progress at Kenic but that is topic for another day 🙂

Did Katundu bully the board into accepting or taking dubious paths, well, you should have seen the disgust on Buruchara’s face when I posed this question. He argued that saying that Katundu calls the shots and makes decisions when key members are away is tantamount to saying that other board members have no ability to make decisions.

Corporate governance

Aly Hussein gave me his take and it mainly related to corporate governance issues at Kenic. He says his served his two terms at Kenic and was not happy about the running of the show, but hey, he moved on.

My question: How do you take over as change manager to oversee a mess that you may be responsible for creating?

Anyway, maybe I don’t get the point.

Kenic as the regulator

Sometimes back I wrote about the ICT (amendment) Act and how it had proposed a model that puts Kenic as the overall admin of .ke and then tender out running of the registry at the second level-, etc tenders were even called for but I am not sure where the process is.

Ideally, Kenic would be the regulator, then another party would run and even another would come and say they want to run, that was the predicament then, with some wondering if Kenic would survive without

A few months ago Kenic had a promotion to sell .ke domains at Sh 1,500 ($19) and it proved to be a big seller. Domains were increasing but the cash was not as much, so it was discontinued.

Image from Dnfblog showing domain numbers in Africa


Thorny question of .africa

Kenic is in the steering committee of the .africa bid submitted by ZACR on behalf of the African Union but Buruchara is also the global strategic chair of a competing .africa bid by DCA; he says he doesn’t plan to represent Kenic on any matters relating to .africa.

Well….. he says that he will competently execute his duties at Nairobinet, DCA, and Kenic.


Trouble at KENIC as 4th CEO in 5 years leaves

I have written so much about KENIC, the .ke country code Top Level Domain administrator that this post will have to be a short one 🙂 you can read more here.

David Wambua, the fourth CEO in five years has left, quit, fired and any other term you can fix there, depending on who you believe. Former CEOs are; Michuki Mwangi, Vincent Ngundi, Joe Kiragu and now David Wambua.

Word is that the guy was incompetent; the board hired a marketing guy to do a technical job. However, I spoke to someone who understands the organization and its politics and told me that being a marketing guy was not the issue; it was his unwillingness to understand the organization and how it works.

I am told that the board hired him from Brand Kenya, believing that he was the guy to take the organization to the next level, a year later, the board felt that the level was down and they expected it to be up.

Picture this; has 700k domains, has 20k and the whole of .ke has 21k as at march 2012. With all the bragging that Kenya is taking off in tech, you would expect the domain to dance around 300k 🙂

The failure to understand KENIC and its history probably manifested itself in the case of Rwanda and its efforts to revive .rw. You see, Kenya is considered a tech power house in the region, so, when Rwanda thought about setting up its .rw registry, it approached Kenic for help.

Kenic adopted the system from the Christmas islands and locally made some enhancements to suit the market and started using it in 2010 or there about. The system has an Mpesa interface for registrars to pay and also an alert system for the end users, alerting you when your domain is about to expire. The system is open source and has been used by a number of African registries, you can read more here.

When David went to Rwanda, he told the .rw guys that the best he could do, is giving them the contacts of the company that customized it for .ke. If David understood Kenic, he probably would have looked for a way to help.

Kenic through the help of Brazil registry for .br, they trained Michuki Mwangi free and gave Kenya their registry system to customize, the only challenge was that the manuals were in Portuguese. Tanzania also benefitted from the same training and you can read the 2006 post here.

When they could not get help from Kenya, Rwanda got help from Tanzania, which is great but doesn’t make a good showing for Kenya. I am not privy to the details of the contract with the .ke system developers but with the history, I am sure it must say somewhere that Kenic can take the system and offer it to someone else for customization or something like that. With the level of underdevelopment of many registries, you would expect others to ask for help and give it, the way you got it from Brazil.

Then there is the problem of board interference.  The micro management at Kenic is just something else. I am told its only one board member who doesn’t like to let things run smoothly. I can not name him without being accused of malice 🙂

Its basic business knowledge that having five CEOs in five years means that there is a problem with the organization; either the employees or the board.

Kenic is a multistakeholder body, owned by the tech community. Board members are:

    Sammy Buruchara – Telecommunication Service Providers Association of Kenya (TESPOK) 

  • Alice Munyua – Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANET) – Chairperson
  • Michael Katundu – Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK)
  • Lucky Waindi – Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK)
  • Charles Njoroge -Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK)
  • Ali Hussein – Domain Registrars Association of Kenya (DRAKE) – Vice-Chairperson
  • Moses Kemibaro – Kenya Internet Marketing Association (KIMA)
  • Prof. Jimmy Macharia – Kenya Education Network (KENET)
  • Charles Nduati – Kenya ICT Federation (KIF)
  • J.N Muiruri – e-Government

News from ICANN

ICANN constituencies meeting

Day two at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is all about constituencies meeting. It is the day that the country code Name Supporting Organization (ccNSO) members meet the board, and also start their daily meetings; ccNSO supports country Top Level Domains like .za, .ke, .ug, .tz, .mw, .na etc.

Other constituents of ICANN also get to meet the board but the highlight of the day was board meeting with the Governments and given the control issues between the two parties, meetings are always interesting to attend.

Here are some highlights….

Domain take down likely to continue

The issue of domain seizures has been in the news with the takedown of file sharing site Megaupload and the revelation that any domain registered with a US registry is expected to follow US laws.

During an open session between the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) and the ICANN board, it was confirmed that ICANN will enforce its contracts with registrars more effectively in oder to meet expectations from governments and law enforcement authorities. The expectations were contained in a 12- page document submitted by the GAC, which also includes   representatives from national law enforcement as well as interpol.

The enforcement will cover all the 22 registries accredited by ICANN whether they are American corporations or not. ICANN also confirmed that it will enforce its contracts with registrars to ensure more compliance and de-accreditation incase they flout the rules. ICANN has accredited more than 1000 registrars but a third have had their contracts terminated.

Commonwealth Cybersecurity Forum to support member countries

The Commonwealth Cybersecurity Forum will support member  countries’ cybersecurity efforts through training and technical support.

At a forum held at the sidelines of the ongoing ICANN meeting, the Commonwealth pledged to support member efforts through training and coordination of support efforts between members. ICANN also offered to support members with domain name system training and other needs that may arise.

ICANN At-Large Committee apologizes to Senegal

During the meeting between members of At Large Committee and the GAC, Senegal raised an issue with a letter of complaint that was written after the meeting in Senegal last October. The letter raised issues with the hotel the members stayed in, poking holes at efforts made by the government to ensure comfortable stay in Dakar.

Maye Diop, the Director of ICT at the Senegalese ministry of ICT said the issue of hotel choice had nothing to do with the government and it was unfair for the At-Large Committee (ALAC) to criticize the government and the local organizing committee.

Olivier Crépin-Leblond, ALAC representative apologized to Senegal government and admitted that mistakes were made, and that the letter should not have been sent.


A visit to domain registry

The other day I got an invite to visit (South Africa) registry and given my following or obsession over domains in Africa, I could not miss a chance, even if its just for the sake of writing a blog post.

The domain numbers in South Africa are impressive, compared to other African countries. Many countries have issues and has been cited as a model of how to market domains; has over 700,000 paid domains (the number is over 800,000 but you will always have suspended domains, those with disputes, etc its better to count paid ones) has over 20,000 domains and you can now add etc. Compare that with .ke which has a total number of 18,000 domains, counting all the strings-,, etc.

.Za has been well supported by the local companies that have ventured into the region. For instance, Multichoice (DSTv) still uses .za emails for their employees all over Africa. Calculate the marketing value, whenever they advertise their contacts.

Indeed, Neil Dundas, one of the directors at UniForum, the registry, feels that the support from South African companies venturing into other markets has boosted the growth of uptake.

Local uptake

Apart from local companies venturing out, international companies setting up base have had to buy .za domains as a way of proving they are local. There was research done on .za domain perception by the .za Domain Authority, I will look it up and support my assertion with the data but the sheer number of domains can give you an idea of whether people like it or not.

Suffice to say that the marketing campaigns, training of registrars and the work under Coza foundation has helped a great deal. UniForum put in R40 million (abt KSh. 400 million) to start off the foundation. The foundation trains teachers among other outreach activities. Now its branching out as a separate entity so that it can receive money from other supporters.

But is that all?

One of the things that struck me when I got there was a team of customer support, I wondered why they needed but that is because the old Coza model interfaced with buyers/endusers/consumers, technically known as registrants. That is the old system, the new system incorporates registries but they are all served by the customer service team.

Then there was another team of developers, who are continually developing the Extensible Provisioning Protocol (EPP) that is robust and flexible that it allows registries and registrars to carry out transactions. Kenic has it for .ke and it has improved the time taken to register domains and also sends you alerts when your domain is registered or renewed, allowing you to keep tabs with your registrar. The older manual system is another story all together and unfortunately most registries in Africa are on some shade of that. You can read more about the EPP system here.

One of the other feature of the .za domain name space is their developed domain dispute resolution mechanism. Just read the news from the zadna to get an idea of how the disputes are dealt with.

Before this post becomes too long and I start digressing, Neil mentioned that one of the biggest drivers is the low cost. You can get a for R35+VAT which translates to Ksh 350+VAT. I have talked so much about the cost of domains that am not going to belabor the point.

I hear some arguing that is available for Ksh 500 but why pay that for a second string while may still be available on the top level?

What are your views?


Guest post: what is your take on .ke domain?

African domains left a comment on an earlier post on .ke. I thought its better to publish the piece, so that its just not me. Here we go ….

I always hear the same argument whenever I complain about the high prices: “It’s not that simplistic”. What’s not simplistic? The truth is that the domains are overpriced! Why doesn’t KENIC borrow from the examples of other nations like South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco etc where the domains are quite affordable?

Believe me , we all want all those .KE domains. There are thousands of attractive generic keyword domains names still available in .ke namespace. We covet them but we can’t afford them. They are just too costly for a local entrepreneur. When Kenyans build more quality websites using .ke names instead of .com or .org, it will add value and more visibility to the .ke namespace!!

It’s quite telling that those sitting on KENIC Board are not using .ke names. Why do they insist on selling to Kenyans domains that they can’t even afford themselves???

KENIC does not even try to offer advantageous pricing and marketing promotions to Kenyan web users. The last time I saw a promotion, they were offering red KENIC branded bags. Do we need bags or domains? In Singapore, they were celebrating their independence month in August and the Registry was selling domains at $3.90 for the whole month to ensure mass adoption and enable citizens to express themselves online using their identity.

Why doesn’t KENIC try these promotions and see if we won’t take up these domains? They can launch promotions for example for Madaraka Day, Jamhuri Day etc and offer even 10,000 .ke domains at Ksh.750 and watch what happens! Like Wanjiku says, if they lower prices, they still get sufficient revenue because of mass uptake! Why aren’t those registries offering low-priced ccTLD domains elsewhere going under?

By its stubborn refusal to listen to the local internet users, KENIC is stifling the Kenyan domain name industry, out of sheer stubbornness. From the stats on KENIC website, it seems KENIC adds an average of 600-700 domains per month, quite pathetic in a country with 10 million internet users.”

I think the argument “It’s not that simplistic” is used to shut off criticism and resist change and open Kenyan users to exploitation. Next time there’s an internet governance forum, Kenyans must loudly express their displeasure at this!!!