This is the second part of the article started last week on the Internet domain market with key lessons learnt from the South African domain market.
According to Mr. Mark J. Elkins, who operates the largest second level domain registry in Africa, the South African country code, top level domain “dot.za” was originally owned and run by the academic community whose initial motivation was to register and operate the various university academic internet names – the “ac.za” strings.
Over time, however, the South African Government opted to put in place a multi-stakeholder, not-for-profit organization to be in charge of the South African ccTLD, "dot.za" This organization is known as the ZA Domain Name Authority, ZADNA and is quite similar to the Kenyan KENIC organization.
However, the Communications Minister in SA appoints a recruitment panel to shortlist and recommend members of the ZADNA board – who are then subsequently gazetted by the Minister. Thereafter, the ZADNA board independently runs the affairs of the “dot.za” name place. This includes self-regulating the South African internet name space, appointing second level domain administrators, approving domain registrars as well as handling dispute resolution.
One notable difference from South Africa that is emerging in the Kenyan case is that the Kenyan regulator intends to assume its regulatory oversight over the dot.KE name space. This is as per the amended, Kenya Information Communication Act, 2009 and as recently emphasized in a post to the KICTAnet list by the CCK communication manager, Mr. Christopher Wambua.
It will be interesting to see what role KENIC will be left to play, once this de-facto, self-regulation practice is taken away.
In yet another posting to the KICTAnet list, Prof. Jimmy Macharia, the current KENIC Chairman envisions KENIC retaining its administrative control over both the ccTLD and the Second Level Domains. This is quite different from the South African case where the second level domain management and administration is outsourced to different entities.
Perhaps a better model would be to have KENIC retain its administrative control over the country code top level domain and delegate the second level domains such as “co.ke”, “ac.ke”, “or.ke”, “go.ke” to other players. However, clear procedures on application, processing and awarding of the winning bidder should be laid out in advance. This will reduce situations where insiders become winners - without duly demonstrating any of the requisite technical, administrative and financial capability.
Mr. Elkins also says that one contemporary key requirement for domain administrators and registrars is the ability to provide and use of the Extensible Provisioning Protocol, EPP. This protocol would facilitate easy migrations between clients of different registrars. In other words, you should be able to move your domain name, website, emails and other internet resources from one registrar supplier to another without incurring costly and deliberate delays.
All in all, it does look like the Internet domain market in Kenya is set for a big change. Will this have a positive or a negative impact in the market? Only time will tell.
Mr Walubengo is a lecturer at the Multimedia University of Kenya, Faculty of Computing and IT. Twitter : @jwalu