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During the early years of Internet development, operations of the core Internet elements
were managed and run by key individuals who were involved in the development of the

In Africa, the Internet was introduced through projects like the Network Start Up
Resource Centre, (NSRC). These projects promoted the delegation of country code Top
Level Domain (ccTLD) managers to individuals or organizations (deemed to be a
representative of local Internet community) with the technical contacts based in foreign
countries mainly owing to the lack of technical expertise and reliable Internet

The Internet uptake in Africa has experienced phenomenal growth over the last decade;
there is therefore an urgent need to repatriate ccTLD's as national resources for further
development of Information communication technology (ICT). Further there is a need to
create awareness to those countries that have not gained control of their ccTLD's and also
assist in the understanding of the ICANN re-delegation process and procedures.

This paper presents the Kenyan experience in the re-delegation and establishment of the
Kenyan ccTLD.

The dot KE Domain name space was first delegated in 1993 by Jon Postel to Dr. Shem
Ochuodho as the Administrative Contact and Randy Bush as the Technical Contact in an
acting capacity until such a time that the Kenyan Internet community was able to take
over the management of the Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD).

In the late 1990’s, Internet in Kenya experienced an exponential growth which lead to an
increased demand in Internet related services. Consequently the demand for delivery of
domain registration services outstretched the volunteers’ capacity, therefore the need for
the re-delegation to a multi-stakeholder organization.

In May 2000, a group of Kenyan Internet stakeholders and the Kenyan Government
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. Beginning October 2001 the Internet stake-holders initiative held
numerous consensus building meetings and broad-based consultations facilitated by the

Government. The focus of the entire consultative process focused on the following areas
of importance;

       i)     Composition of the Organization
       ii)    Constitution of the Organization
       iii)   Objectives
       iv)    Support and funding
       v)     Sustainability

1. Composition of the Organization
The composition of the organization was vital in ensuring that all the stake-holders were
involved in the process. The process therefore required the definition of the membership
which would pave way for the consensus based discussions.
The composition of the members was derived by a clear definition of the term and
representation of the “local Internet community”. As a result, the Kenyan local Internet
community was defined as a representation of the following category groups;
       i)      Government
       ii)     Academia
       iii)    Civil Society
       iv)     Private Sector
       v)      National Operators
       vi)     The acting .KE Administrative Contact

This paved way for the realization of representation of specific interest groups and the
criteria to be used for invitation of founder members of KENIC and the subsequent
appointment to the board directors that would eventually take over the responsibility of
managing the .KE ccTLD.

The founding member organization invited to formally appoint directors to the KENIC
board were as follows;

       1) Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), the telecommunications
          regulator representing the Government,
       2) Government Information Technology Services (GITS) also representing the
       3) Kenya Information Society (KIS) to represent the civil society
       4) National Task Force on Electronic Commerce (NTF-Ecom) also representing
          the civil society
       5) Telecommunications Service providers Association of Kenya (TESPOK)
          representing private sector,
       6) Kenya Education Network (KENET) representing the academic society
       7) The acting .KE Administrative Contact who would oversee and ensure that the
          integrity of the registry was maintained during the transition.

Having successfully defined the “local Internet community” and the consequent
appointment of members to the board, there was a need to define their respective roles in
the process to avoid duplication of roles and most importantly to maintain the status quo.

The broad-based composition of the board provided an ideal platform to commence
intensive consensus based, consultative discussions between the members to attain the
initiatives objectives.

Government Role
In the Public domain, the government is viewed as the neutral body that represents
interests of the public. Therefore, the Government’s role was to facilitate the re-
delegation process and endorse the organization that was formed to manage and operate
the .KE ccTLD. In addition, the Kenyan Government as a member of KENIC was
required to seek support toward the project.

Private Sector
The private sector possessed the required skills and expertise necessary to implement the
Administrative and technical elements of the project. As a result, the private sector was
granted the lead on the project and mandated to drive the implementation to a success
within the shortest time possible.

The acting Administrative Contact
The acting Administrative contact of the .KE registry Dr. Shem Ochuodho was a
welcome resource to provide the necessary technical and administrative advice to the
members, all new to the domain name arena. Unfortunately, there was no support
received from this quota.

Academic and Civil Society Sectors
The academic and civil society sectors are seemingly neutral members with a broad
representation. Their participation in the process was vital in creating the awareness
needed for the success of the initiative. In addition, they were tasked with the
responsibility of seeking the support of their respective sectors. The academic sector was
to further develop an internship recruitment programme that would serve the ccTLD
registry operations.

The resultant composition transformed the organization to a non-profit, Public Private
Partnership (PPP).

2. The Organization’s Constitution
With a definitive composition of the Organizations members and their roles completed,
there was need to transform the initiative into a legal entity by registering the
organization under the Kenyan law. Consequently the members had to agree on the
organizations constitution that would form the company’s Articles and Memorandum of

As a result, the founding members were nominated to full board members of KENIC. The
members further approved of an associate membership to sit on the board as observers. A
rotational mechanism was also endorsed to provide an opportunity for the active associate
members to be appointed to full board membership and subsequently retire a full board
member to an associate member through consensus.

To maintain the status quo and steer the organization clear of power dominance the
members agreed on the following;
   i)     Full board membership was limited to 6 members
   ii)    There was no limitation on the number of associate members.
   iii)   The government was granted an additional seat on the board therefore making
          the total number of full board members to 7
   iv)    The board chairman would always be from the private sector
   v)     All board resolutions were to be passed by consensus and not by voting

The drafting of the organizations constitution paved way for the registration of the
organization “Kenya Network Information Centre” (KENIC) with the registrar of
companies in Kenya as a company limited by guarantee (a not-for-profit entity).

3. Organizations Objectives
With the successful registration of KENIC the members set out the organizations
objectives. The primary objective was to complete the re-delegation process of the .KE
ccTLD in addition to;
        i)    Manage and operate the .KE ccTLD
        ii)   Develop and promote the use of the .KE name space
        iii)  Use the surplus revenue generated from domain name registration services
              to develop ICTs in less disadvantaged areas of Kenya.
        iv)   Build technical capacity through Internship programmes at the registry
        v)    Represent the local Internet community at local and international

4. Support and funding
The implementation of the ccTLD Registry operations required stake-holder support to
succeed. The founding KENIC members hosted a stakeholder open forum in August
2002 to discuss proposed registry policies and procedures. The discussions centered
mainly on the level of fees to be levied on domain name registrations, Registry operation
model and the dispute resolution policy. At this event, ICANN was invited to meet with
the stake-holders to review the progress made.

Further, the implementation of the technical operations required hardware, software and
technical personnel. The Government of Kenya through the Regulator CCK provided a
budgetary allocation of $110,000 USD toward the purchase of equipment for the
technical implementation. In addition, CCK provided office space to host the registry

The private sector provided the much needed technical resources to implement the
ccTLD technical operations. They also facilitated internship for the technical personnel at
the Ugandan (.UG) and Brazilian (.BR) registries. We acknowledge the support that was
given by the .UG and .BR registries during the formulation process. It is eminent that the
support received was due to the establishment of the .KE ccTLD as a non-profit entity.
The private sector further contributed the KENIC logo and tag phrase.

5. Sustainability
To maintain sustainability of the Registry operations, a private sector business model
approach that aimed at maintaining low operational costs that would equal the sales was
sought. There were an estimated 1,500 active domains in the .KE registry (inherited from
the former registry). Taking this into consideration, the fees were set at Kshs 2,000 per
year (avg. $25-$30) for each domain registration and renewal.

To maintain low operating costs, the members agreed to adopt the Registry/Registrar
model of operations that set a lean working force, placing the bulk of the work at the
Registrars. The registrars are mainly comprised of the ISP’s, Web designers and Solution
providers who had been previously registering domain names locally.

Internet connectivity, a mandatory requirement for the registry operations was provided
at no cost by the ISP Association through the Kenya Internet Exchange Point. Kenya
Data Networks a data network operator provided the local loop circuit at no cost.

Therefore, with a roof over the Registry’s head, personnel and Internet connectivity the
Registry was ready to commence domain registry services. The technical delegation was
completed in February 2003, two months after the delegation of the Administrative
contact in December 2002.

Potential Pitfalls
The success of the ccTLD re-delegation and implementation was not as smooth sailing as
documented above. There are few potential pitfalls that we feel need mention to caution
those undertaking a similar process.

National ccTLD’s are a national resource. There can only be one ccTLD in a country
which in essence categorizes it as a monopoly. Similarly, all monopolistic establishments
are bound to have more adversaries than friends. However, non-profit multi-stakeholder
monopolies have more friends than adversaries.

Top level domain names like .COM et al, have well established themselves in the Internet
market posing unmatched competition to any startup ccTLD. Internet development in
African countries has been hampered by various factors that have directly limited the
growth of domain names in the region. These challenges limit the size of an African
ccTLD notably making them among the smallest registries in the world. Therefore,
contrary to believe, African ccTLD’s are not potential money making ventures, but
potential avenues for Internet growth and development in the region.

The location of the registry is a sensitive matter. In many respects, the location is viewed
as control though it’s never the case. To elude any misconceptions that may arise from
the location and hosting of the registry, it has been realized that government or public
universities provide ideal neutral locations.

A consensus based process that invokes voting to reach a resolution is destined to digress.
If the members agree to reach all resolutions by consensus, voting should never occur.

Project Champions and Drivers
The success of any given initiative is dependent on the commitment of the members and
most importantly that of the project drivers. In the Kenyan re-delegation experience the
process was greatly enhanced by the following;

Michael Katundu; - A founding member and CCK representative on the KENIC board.
His role was instrumental in lobbying for the Governments support toward the initiative.
The Government through CCK committed seed money and hosting of the organization.
Further Mr. Katundu was equally involved in lobbying ICANN through the Government
Advisory Committee (GAC) to influence the re-delegation process.

Richard Bell; - A founding member and TESPOK representative on the KENIC board.
Richard brought a wealth of experience to the organization and spear headed the private
sector support. As the interim chairman of KENIC he brokered consensus between the
private sector and the Government; steering clear of deadlocks.

For re-delegation to be granted, the sponsoring organization is required to sign a binding
Memorandum of understanding with ICANN. However, some international institutions
have questioned the legalities surrounding the signing of this agreement at various
international forums including the WSIS, ITU and UN ICT Taskforce. It’s eminent that
the issue will persist, but as long as an alternative solution is not provided, the re-
delegating countries will continue to follow the existing ICANN process and procedures.

In the Kenyan experience, the recognition of the .KE ccTLD name space as a national
resource that can be explored to promote ICTs in Kenya paved way for the development
of a home grown solution. Unlike many initiatives, the ccTLD was established on a
consensus based self sustaining model.

It is important to note that the technical operations took 3 months to implement compared
to the consensus building process that took longer. It’s noted with appreciation that
building consensus among the different sectors in society remains a challenge. It is
therefore our wish to recommend that involving the local internet community in the
process will provide an opportunity to develop a home grown solution best suited for
your respective region.


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