Following the call for public consultations from CAK (Communication Authority of Kenya), previously known as Communication Commission of Kenya for the way forward for the management of .ke registry, I took the liberty to respond to the documents available for public perusal.

The registry’s work is to maintain all administrative data of the domain and generates a zone file which contains the addresses of the nameservers for each domain. Kenic is a registry for .ke. Other registries are ZADNA for .za, Nominet UK for .uk, PIR for .org and Verisign for .com and .net. A domain name registry is a database of all domain names and the associated registrant information in the top level domains of the DNS of the internet that allow third party entities to request administrative control of a domain name.

A domain name registrar is a commercial entity that manages the reservation of Internet domain names. A domain name registrar must be accredited by a registry (KENIC, Nominet UK, Verisign, PIR e.t.c). There are many registrars in Kenya see and their work is to market the domains to the end users. For .com, org e.t.c we have enom, godaddy, 1and1 e.t.c. The registrars do a very important role in the ecosystem, this being innovation, marketing, and value added services like emails, website hosting, and website development. A registry will be overwhelmed doing all this.

The documents listed on the CCK website are not specific on how CCK intends to transform KENIC, although Wambua and Dr. Macharia tried giving some explanation that KENIC will remain as it is currently. The current position is “KENIC is a not-for-profit entity”.

It would be great if CCK shared the framework document that advised them on the direction they chose for KENIC. Grace Githaiga too has requested on the framework document to be made public. The report from the consultant that CCK hired should be shared with the public.

Dr. Jimmy Macharia on his official response has stated that “KENIC is the best suited entity to continue managing and operating the top Level .ke ccTLD registry. That statement is subject to many interpretations and needs more clarity.

If we all had a common utilitarian interest for the Domain industry in Kenya and for the end user, the direction for KENIC would have been very clear and agreeable to all. And that sincere interest is to ensure KENIC remains a NOT FOR PROFIT organization. CCK is soliciting views from the pubic yet they have already made up their mind on the final outcome. That defeats the whole purpose of public consultations. KENIC needs to be a Public Interest Registry owned by the community and not a commercial entity just like Nominet UK. The prices need to be made as low as possible to maintain the registry, and at the same time allow registrars to flourish and compete. The numbers that KENIC is operating at now are enough for it to operate independently yet serve the interests of our Internet Community.

The document Review follows below:

The Licensing Framework
The Commission hereby submits the draft licensing framework for dot KE Domain Name Registry Services for public review and comment s. The licensing framework consists of the following documents:
i. Draft application form for the dot KE Domain Name Registry Services;
ii. Draft license conditions for Dot KE Domain Name Registry Services; and
iii. Draft procedures and guidelines for the provision of Dot KE Domain Name Registry Services

According to the documents posted online, the commission wants us to debate on the application form, and license conditions for the new commercial registry bidder, instead of the community debating on the new entity’s legal structure and the players in that structure. The documents provided for public consultation do not address key legal issues, the reason why the community totally ignored them.

(Page 3)
The licensing framework for Dot KE Domain Name Registry and the proposed structure of a delegated regulation model will ensure that the Commission plays a regulatory oversight role as envisaged in the Act and Regulations while at the same time transferring the management of the Dot KE Domain Name Registry to a commercial entity.

From the document, the word “commercial entity” has been used, and may mean several things, it’s evident that there is some form of bidding and auctioning that will be going on, yet the interests of the community can only be realised through a Nont-for-Profit Public Interest Registry.

Price of .ke set to go up.
Applicable Fees
The dot KE Domain Name Registry services fall under the Application Service Provider (ASP) licence category. The licence shall therefore be for a period of 15 years and shall attract a licence application fee of Kshs. 5,000.00, an initial operating licence fee of Kshs. 100,000.00 and an annual operating fee equivalent to 0.4% of annual gross turnover or Kshs. 80,000, whichever is higher. The Registrars shall be issued with an authorization upon fulfilment of the above requirements and payment of a registration fee of Kshs 10,000.
Check page2, part D of the Applciation form

The ASP mentioned above is taking over a proven business, whose annual revenue is over ksh50,000,000.00 for a license fee of Ksh115,000 and 0.4% of profits. Consider that is 90% of all the 30,000 domains registered, the ASP will be buying a Ksh 50,000,000.00 investment at 0.002% of the cost? I might be wrong with my calculations, but as you can see, it does not make a lot of sense to turn a public body and sell it for a song to a private commercial entity.
The price of a .ke is already too high for many Kenyans, at a registrar price of Ksh2320 (USD27), many end users opt for gTLDs (.com, .net, e.t.c). There is a whole ecosystem of young entrepreneurs who have settled as .ke registrars and instead of shaking them off from the tree, we should work hard to ensure .ke prices are lower than they currently are. Credit for KENIC for running promotions regularly that give good discounts to end users.

Annex1, page 8

Note that companies wishing to be considered for a licence in the communications sector must allot a minimum of 20% of their total shares to individual Kenyan citizens within three (3) year s from the date of issuance of the licence/s

What was the reason of re-delegating the .ke from Randy Bush if we are going to auction it again to foreigners? Is there any other country outside sub-sahara Africa where their ccTLD has been delegated to foreigners? China? US? UK? Japan? South Africa? Brazil? Let us not sell our resources to foreigners since we can manage them ourselves. We must be more protective of our assets least we become the laughing stock.

3. Letter of licence offer
If the application is approved, you will be informed in writing (letter of offer) and may also be contacted via phone/email. The letter of offer is valid for a period of 6 months from the date it’s written and states the amount of money to be paid before a licence is issued. Please note that the upfront operational fees in the offer letter are prorated on monthly bases. This may therefore differ depending on the date you wish to make the payment. You may therefore wish to get in touch with our office to be advised on the correct operating fees before making the payment

Are the fees to be paid decided in advance? Is it an auction?

8.Dot KE ccTLD subdomains Registration Fees
Given that the Dot KE Domain Name Registry is a technical monopoly, and is intended for the good of Kenyans, fees must be reasonably low and competitive. The Commission shall approve the cost of Dot KE Domain Name Registry services. page 6 and 7

Since the investors will have to recoup their capital expenses, the regulator should have initiated price controls to cushion the consumer. The registrar price should be fixed to say Ksh1000 maximum per domain, and allow the intermediary registrars to put a small markup to cover their operating expense. Leaving the price open is subject to massive abuse. And price control is nothing new in the Kenyan market. Read oil, electricity, e.t.c.

Way Forward
1. We should all note that .ke is a public resource
2. This resource has been with us for several years.
3. The resource should not be auctioned to the highest bidder.
4. .ke should be transferred to a not-for-profit community owned body to manage it. The proceeds of the profits can be used to build our ICT knowledge economy through donations to schools, sponsoring local initiatives, e.t.c. This model has been very successful. Indeed it should be noted that .za of South Africa took the commercial route only for them to turn around and now the resource is back in public hands. The South African ZADNA is a not-for-profit company that manages and regulates the .za namespace. ZACR (Uniforum) on the other hand is a non-profit organisation that exists for the good of the South African Internet. They plough surplus funds raised beyond covering operating expenses back into the greater Internet community.

Lets be vigilant and ensure that as a community, we have the final word on the direction of where this critical internet resource will head

Register .ke domain here