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Concerns Raised over Proposed CCK changes to commercialize ‘.ke’ internet identity

Players in the telecommunications service industry are raising concerns over the manner in which the Kenyan government is  proposing to handle the Communications Authority  of Kenya (CAK), transition out of KENIC- the .ke domain manager. The .ke domain registry has two guarantor shareholders, the industry lobby group Telecommunications Service Providers Association of Kenya (TESPOK) and Communications Authority of Kenya formerly CCK. While lauding the move to have the regulator step down from the board of the domain manager, there is a need to ensure a smooth institutional transition and service delivery.

The association through its Chairman Mr. Kris Senanu says the 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 recently in a local business newspaper.

“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.”

The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (the ICANN), as part of the administrative functions associated with management of the domain-name system root, is responsible for receiving requests for delegation and re-delegation of top-level domains, 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, 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 consistence with ICANN policies.”

Unfortunately, over the last five years interference of CCK, now CAK, 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 out. 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

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