Strengthening ccTLD's in East Africa'- Interrogating the Research Findings Kenya Network Information Centre (KeNIC)

27 September 2011 - A Workshop on Critical Internet Resources in Nairobi, Kenya

Agenda

This workshop aims at interrogating the final research findings of the KICTANet/KeNIC research project titled 'Strengthening ccTLD's in East Africa 'for GLOCOM with the support of International Development and Research Centre (IDRC) .

The research objective was to establish operational and governance of ccTLD's ,organizational structures, competition and impact of price on uptake and regulatory framework in the East African region.

The focus was on the strategic evaluation of the evolution, management positioning and contribution of ccTLD's as a critical component of the internet infrastructure in East Africa.

The discussions will revolve around issues affecting ccTLD's including;
Internet Resource Identification
Access to broad band
Cyber crime
Local content development and;
Consumer protection and policy regulatory environment

 

 

Workshop Report
Strengthening ccTLDs in East Africa – Interrogatng the Research Findings by
Kenya Network Informaton Centre
The workshop was held on 27 th September 2011 and was a feeder workshop to the Critcal Internet
Resources session.
The session was moderated by Muriuki Mureithi Consultant at Summit Strategies and a member of
the Kenya ICT Acton Network assisted by other panelists who included, Alice Munyua, Chair Kenya
Internet Governance Steering commitee and Board Member Kenya Network informaton Centre,
Abibu Ntahigiye, Manager, Tanzania Network Informaton Centre, Dr. Vinton Cerf, Google Vice
President and Chief Internet Evangelist and Paul Museeh, Technical Manager from the Kenya Network
Informaton Centre.
1.1 Introducton
The workshop moderator opened the foor and invited partcipants to introduce themselves led by
the panelists. Partcipants were informed that the main agenda was centered around the output of a
study that had been conducted in the year 2010 on the ccTLD ecosystem in East Africa and that the
discussions would help fne-tune the report. From the introductons it was evident that there was a
broad spectrum of stakeholders from the ccTLD community drawn from all parts of the world. The
moderator thereafer invited the lead researcher Ms. Alice Munyua to present the research fndings.
1.2 Presentaton of the Research Findings
Ms. Alice Munyua started by giving a background of the research process. Partcipants were briefed
about the genesis of the East African Internet Governance Forum that was frst convened by Kenya in
collaboraton with Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and atended by representatves from all
the East African natons. Partcipants were informed that the East African IGF was preceded by
Natonal IGFs in the respectve countries and that during the natonal meetngs a number of critcal
issues that were unique to the region had been identfed. Among the issues identfed that were
unique to the East African region were poor management of the ccTLDs due to lack of management
skills, poor marketng of the ccTLDs as well as lack of adequate capacity in terms of technical and
human resources. Convenors of the East African Internet Governance Forum decided that other than
the usual dialogue, they will embark on concerted eforts to address each critcal issue. A policy
advocacy strategy was mooted for each East African country and was used to identfy what the
country considered as a Critcal Internet Resource.
The lead researcher informed partcipants that the report was descriptve in nature and that the
research had been conducted in all the East African countries that is Kenya Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania
and Burundi. She emphasized that the results will be of great beneft to the Policy making process in
the fve countries and would also contribute to research and knowledge creaton in the East African
region. The report also took cognizance of other salient issues such as Infrastructure, consumer
issues, best practces in re-delegaton, criteria for good governance , policy and regulatory issues
afectng ccTLDs and Cybercrime issues that are fundamental to the ccTLD eco-system.
1.3 Research Methodology
The strategy used in conductng the study involved a three stage process, , literature review,
collecton of primary and secondary data and validaton of the fndings during the Natonal and East
African Internet governance For a. Partcipants were informed that disseminaton of the fndings had
already commenced and that the process was aimed at improving the results. The research was
segmented to accommodate all the key stakeholders who included the fve ccTLD registries in the
region , regulatory authorites, Internet Service providers and Consumers.
1.4 Presentaton of the report
Partcipants were then taken through a presentaton outlining the fndings and recommendatons ,
the moderator then asked one of the ccTLD managers from the region Abibu Ntahigiye to react to the
presentaton. In his submission Abibu who is also the manager of the Tanzania Network Informaton
Centre stressed on the need for proper governance frameworks for ccTLD registries, he emphasized
that a strong foundaton was critcal to the success of any registry. Partcipants were informed that a
registry could be part of government, academia or a private entty. They were also informed that a
registry could be self regulated or outsourced, each model has its advantages and disadvantages . He
gave the example of Tanzania Network informaton centre which setled for an independent and self
regulated model out of a consensus building process spearheaded by the regulator . Partcipants
were also informed that the challenges faced by ccTLDs could be categorized into two, technical
challenges and operatonal challenges. From a technical perspectve he cited atacks on the Domain
Name system but added a quick rejoinder that they had already found ways of mitgatng such
challenges, from an operatonal perspectve, he cited lack of publicity. He also challenged Dr. Vint Cerf
to look at ways of availing afordable hostng services that would allow more people to take
advantage of the services.
While acknowledging the issues raised by the Manager of Tanzania Network Informaton Centre the
moderator pointed out that there was need for concerted eforts from all stakeholders to improve
the way ccTLDs were managed. He thereafer Invited Dr. Vint Cerf to give a preview of the evoluton
of the Internet and some of the lessons learnt during the process . In his submission Vint Cerf noted
that it was a mistake to abdicate the responsibility of promotng usage of the Internet to ccTLDs in
the region and that ccTLDs played a critcal role in availing infrastructure. He stressed on the need for
other players such as Internet Service Providers and registrars to play their respectve roles. While
reactng to Dr. Vint Cerf, Abibu Ntahigiye gave an example of the relatonship between the Tanzania
Network Informaton Centre and the Internet Service providers associaton in the country. However
he noted that that associaton of Internet Service providers was not keen on helping to market the
registry services since it was not its core business and that as a mater of fact they were more
interested in marketng generic top level domains since they had a lower price and provided a decent
mark up, he admited that pricing was a major challenge in Tanzania. Dr. Cerf noted that there was
need for users to be identfed with the domain name services. He told partcipants that in as much as
the Tanzanian model was good, it was important that they establish a way of bundling registered
domains with email services , partcipants were told that there were mutual interests between
Internet Service providers and ccTLDS (Country code Top Level Domain registries), he vouched for
combined marketng strategies and approaches between Internet Service providers and ccTLDs. Vint
Cerf vouched for sustainable registries, he told partcipants that for registries to be reliable they
needed sustainable cash infows, he pointed out the correlaton between penetraton of Internet in a
country and availability of local content and called for strategies that would promote growth of local
content hence encourage local trafc. Vint Cerf cited the fact that people look for useful informaton
from the internet and that ofen tmes the informaton is geographically confned and that this is
what was referred to as local. He noted with concern that ccTLDs in the region had been burdened by
issues they could not fulfll without the cooperaton of other players in the Internet eco-system, the
moderator then opened the foor for comments. Partcipants felt that there was need to review the
role of government in operaton of ccTLDs and that it was important to encourage multstakeholder
models. It was noted that where government was a majority in Africa, very litle had been achieved
from a business perspectve. There was a feeling that for ccTLDs to thrive , they needed to establish
strong and compettve brands. Other partcipants felt that there was need to free ccTLDs from
unnecessary obligatons as stated by Vint Cerf if they were to fulfll their mandate. Other Partcipants
felt that for ccTLDs to succeed, a lot of goodwill from the local internet community was required and
that for this to be atained, there were issues such as availability of local hostng, use of local content
and a healthy Internet eco-system that needed to be addressed.
While reactng to the comments from the partcipants , Alice Munyua the lead researcher used the
Kenya as a case study. She informed partcipants that the ccTLD realized afer conductng a study that
it was impractcal to embark on marketng campaigns to promote the .ke domain and resorted to
working with stakeholders that is the government , private sector and academia in promotng .ke
through strategic partnerships. Partcipants were informed that this was already enshrined in the
Kenya Network Informaton Centre strategic plan. She cited examples of partnerships between KeNIC
and Google as well as KeNIC and the Kenya Educaton Network in promotng growth of local content
and encouraging uptake of local domains. On redelegaton issues, she informed partcipants that the
process had to be driven by Social politcal and economic concerns since ccTLDs were important
natonal resources. She cited the case of KeNIC which had adopted a successful multstakeholder
model since incepton and had played a key role in development of the Internet in the country. She
thereafer invited David Wambua, the Chief Executve Ofcer of Kenya Network Informaton Centre to
contribute to the discussion.
In his submissions David highlighted some critcal success factors the Kenya Network Informaton
Centre had identfed that would help overcome some of the challenges identfed in the study . He
cited capacity building initatves being spearheaded by Kenya Network Informaton Centre that
targeted registrars since they were the primary contacts with the end users. He told partcipants that
a number of skills were being imparted on registrars which included Sales and Marketng skills,
training on Domain Name System security and awareness on the value of the .ke domain .
Partcipants were also informed that the Kenya Network Informaton Centre has been enhancing its
relatonship with accredited registrars and building strategic partnerships with various stakeholders
drawn from the public, private sector, academia and Internatonal community through ICANN with
the intenton of increasing uptake of the .ke domain. He cited the recent growth in the number of
domains from 18,000 domains to 19,000 domains as a one of the successes of this initatves.
Vint Cerf told partcipants that as Google, they had realized that users of mobile devices looked for a
diferent sets of informaton when compared to users of laptops. Partcipants were told that most
mobile users look for informaton that is Geographically localized , he expressed his skeptsm on the
demands being placed on ccTLDs to drive the growth in uptake of domain names since they were
primarily infrastructure providers , he told partcipants that real value comes from the domain name
and that diferent stakeholders in the Internet Eco-system had a part to play in facilitatng uptake of
local domains. He also stressed on the fact that the statstcs indicate that with the availability of local
content, uptake of local domains was high.
Abibu on his part lamented at the challenges they had faced while trying to promote the registry due
to lack of publicity but informed partcipants that they had adopted a diferent approach in which
capacity building was key and that they would work with Universites and colleges in building capacity
for the next generaton of registry managers.
1.5 Infrastructure and Security of the Domain Name System in ccTLDs
The next session focused on Infrastructure and Security of the Domain Name system. The moderator
invited Paul Musee from the Kenya Network Informaton centre to share the Kenyan case study. Paul
Musee informed partcipants that KeNIC had successfully deployed the DNsSEC test bed and was in
the process of a complete rollout by the end of the year. Partcipants were informed that Kenya was
benchmarking from its South African counterparts and that they had not encountered any major
challenge in the process. Partcipants commended KeNIC for successful deployment of the DNSsec
test bed despite the fact that its implementaton had been a major challenge in the Asia Pacifc region
and parts of Europe. It was noted that the policy environment played a key role in successful
deployment of DNSSEC and that in some developed countries, the industries were stll lagging behind
in embracing DNSSec. Vint Cerf while commentng on the subject told partcipants that Google is
concerned about reliable operaton of Domain Name Servers , Google ensures that its domains can
resolve promptly and reliably every tme , this is one of the measures they take when registering in a
ccTLD. Partcipants were also informed that Google ensures that there is redundancy in the event that
the system fails, security of the servers is also an area of concern, Vint Cerf gave examples of how the
domain name system in several countries has been atacked leading to the hi-jacking of domains .
While commentng on the need for redundancy, Paul Musee told partcipants that there was a
requirement for every registry that the domain name system should have a redundancy in at least
two diferent Geographical locatons. He gave the example of Kenya Network Informaton Centre
which has replicated its server in diferent locatons. Abibu reiterated that ccTLDs are important
communicaton resources for a country, he cited the role of ccTLDs in promotng growth and use of
local content especially in cases where there is close collaboraton with Internet exchange points. He
mentoned direct economic beneft in terms of the savings made whenever trafc is routed locally, he
also cited capacity building eforts spearheaded by ccTLDs which have helped young people
understand and appreciate how the Internet works in general and specifcally how registries operate.
Mr. Mohamed from the .SO registry challenged partcipants to think of ways in which they would
have government ofcials using their ccTLD extension as opposed to generic top level domain
extensions on their ofcial email addresses, he termed it embarrassing. The same should be availed
to University students since this was the best way to have the locals identfy with their ccTLDs . The
moderator reiterated that there was need for a conscious branding efort to create an impression
that the Internet is open for business if the community is to embrace the benefts of the Domain
Name system, the moderator then enquired from the partcipants their thoughts on the impact of
new extensions such as .Africa and .EAC.
In response to the queston, the lead researcher informed partcipants that the study established
mixed feelings in so far as the .EAC and .Africa domain extensions are concerned, there were
concerns that some registries were stll very weak and that there was need to strengthen natonal
ccTLDs before focusing on regional TLDs. Citng Kenya as an example, partcipants were told that
there was more work to be done in entrenching the registry locally and increasing the number of
domains from 20, 000 domains to a higher fgure, developing the local ecommerce market and that
untl this is atained, emphasis would be accorded on the natonal ccTLD. Vint Cerf echoed the
comments made by Alice and told partcipants that there was need to resolve the myriad of issues
afectng natonal ccTLDs before focusing on regional TLDs since the ccTLDs faced a number of
challenges from a technical , Social and politcal perspectve.
1.6 Closing Remarks
Vint Cerf encouraged the panelists to embark on concerted eforts that would bring together all
stakeholders natonally, regionally and Internatonally that are key to growing the use of the internet.
He cited the need for mutual efort and Synergies amongst stakeholders in the Internet ecosystem in
order to grow demand for Internet Services, this is the only way to facilitate signifcant growth and
demand for ccTLD services. There was also need to promote individual use of Internet Services.
A remote partcipant from the Pacifc thanked the panelists for a great session, he cited examples
made by Abibu from the Tanzania Network Informaton Centre on introducing ccTLDs in the school
curriculum as a classic case of capacity building, he also cited the various governance models
mentoned during the presentaton as a perfect case study for the pacifc region as it seeks to grow its
ccTLDS.
David Wambua, the Chief Executve Ofcer of Kenya Network Informaton Centre and workshop host
thanked all the partcipants for atending the session and acknowledged the role played by the
panelists in provoking interestng discussions around the report.