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.
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.
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.
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- .co.ke, .or.ke .sc.ke 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 .co.ke and even another would come and say they want to run .com.ke, that was the predicament then, with some wondering if Kenic would survive without co.ke.
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.
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.