Sunday, April 8, 2012

Which way for the Kenya Internet Exchange Point?

The Structure I proposed to TESPOK
About 7 or 8 years ago, when I was still on the board of directors of TESPOK, I suggested a governance structure that gave KIXP independence from TESPOK, it's 'mother' institution. The main rationale here was to ensure that KIXP maintains a separate, independent existence, regardless of what happened to TESPOK. 

This was during a TESPOK strategy meeting where the key message was "The African ISP is dead, long live the African ISP" based on a paper by Russell Southwood of Balancing Act Africa. The essence of which was that with the onslaught of mobile operators going into internet access provision, the only way that ISPs would survive would be through consolidation via mergers/acquisition or a complete redefinition of business focus and strategy. What was evident to me (but seemingly not to others) was that as the ISP industry transformed, there would be fewer players, and thus, less democracy - especially with regards to governance issues. 

At the same time, KIXP was attracting plenty of interest from non-ISPs and already had non-ISP members such as KENIC, KRA and others - it was evident that the interest would continue, especially as the sector evolved with greater participation from content creators, hosting companies, data-centres etc... KIXP would become the de-facto facility for providing industry actors with data interconnection and interchange.

Current structure as per an Independent study on KIXP, 2006
For those of you unfamiliar with KIXP's history - in 2001 we had to register a company KIXP Ltd, and file for an IXP license from CCK, in order to become operational after the forced closure of the IXP in 2000. My proposal was that KIXP Ltd be given full autonomy from TESPOK, have a board of directors appointed by members in full standing, and be run as a business, similar to LINX in the UK, and other successful IXPs around the world. As part of my proposals I shared the attached diagram (which I have just found in my archives). The Board would identify and appoint a CEO, who would then identify suitable staff to meet organisational growth. Being a business, some implied issues were self-sustainability, a business plan with clear growth, and social or financial returns for the 'shareholders'.

My proposals fell upon deaf ears and it is sad for me now to see a frail and seemingly weak KIXP that cannot seem to consistently engage newcomers to the industry with the benefits of local traffic exchange.

A simple question - how many of the TEAMs/SEACOM/EASSY bandwidth-holders are peering at KIXP? As mentioned by someone else concerned about optimal traffic flows in Kenya, some of our traffic is being exchanged in exotic places like Mumbai, London etc...

So, I continue shaking my head...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Twitter debate #140Friday results in live broadcast debate on NTV Business Agenda

The debate that started on Twitter about Kenya's ICT sector, the allegedly lopsided situation where most of the high value deals were going to Multinationals like Accenture and IBM and touched on issues such as process excellence in the development and delivery of IT services, skills, capacity and availability of tax incentives and availability of capital.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A small step for Government but a leap for Kenya

Today a story broken by the Daily Nation had the sensational headline "CCK Sparks Row with Fresh Bid to Spy on Internet Users". The story has triggered a very lively debate both in conventional broadcast as well as online media. While many feel threatened about the alleged invasion of their privacy, some of the more clued up are welcoming this development. The 'row' alluded to by the author the DN article seems to be attributed to some telecoms service providers reactions towards letters received from the CCK requiring them to cooperate in the installation of internet traffic monitoring equipment which the article refers to as "Network Early Warning System (NEWS)". Apparently CCK has clearly stated that the system will support the country's ability to detect and facilitate response to possible cyber threats.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Intense Twitter Debate on Tech Business Brings Kenya's Top Minds Face-to-Face at NaiLab on Friday 9th

The last 24 hours has seen an interesting twitter debate, if you missed it then you need to follow @pkukubo (Paul Kukubo), @blongwe (Brian Longwe), @kenyanpundit, @mikemachariaSST (Mike Macharia Seven Seas) and David Ndungu @davidndugu.

On request from @agostal and @kenyanpundit and accepted by all, its time to move from behind the keypads and have a debate that can accommodate more than 140 characters

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Of Gateways and Gatekeepers: The History of Internet Exchange Points in Kenya and Rwanda

An excerpt from "At the Crossroads: ICT Policy Making in East AFrica" ©International Development Research Centre 2005, First Published 2005, ISBN 9966-25-439-0

Note: This piece chronicles the role I played in setting up KIXP between 2000 and 2002


The Internet in Africa has been growing steadily over the past several years and is beginning to play a significant role in Africa's development, creating employment, providing opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as acting as an enabler in the digital delivery of government services, education, radio, and healthcare among others. The new possibilities provided by Internet technologies present African countries with an opportunity to leapfrog phases of development and make use of the most recent innovations to establish a strong information society and increase the distribution of wealth among the populace, thereby addressing the poverty that has plagued the continent to date.

Fighting for What’s Right: The Kenya Internet Exchange Point

By Brian Longwe
Excerpt from "African CSOs Speak on the World Summit on the Information Society"
© Economic Commission for Africa November 2005

"Wait and see, we will shut you down!" These ominous words came from a senior Telkom Kenya manager to the Chairman of the Telecommunications Service Providers of Kenya (TESPOK) regarding the Kenya Internet Exchange Point (KIXP). TESPOK had just launched KIXP amidst much acclaim and fanfare, but the events that followed clearly showed that some people were far from happy with this positive development in Kenya's Internet growth.

The warning was carried out and within hours. Telkom had disconnected all ISPs links into KIXP on the basis of a hastily made decision by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) that KIXP was operating illegally. These events, which took place in November 2000, marked the beginning of what will probably be remembered as the biggest regulatory battle in Kenya's history and a key defining moment for Kenya's Internet industry.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Are you an unclear reactor?

No, that was not a spelling mistake or typo, I did not mean to write 'nuclear reactor' - I meant to write UNclear reactor. What do I mean? Well, the word reactor is defined as "a person or thing that reacts or
undergoes reaction", another definition simply describes a reactor as "one that reacts to a stimulus". Our daily lives are full of all kinds of stimulus, some good, some bad, some fun, some boring, some
exciting, some mediocre - and we all react to these various stimuli in different ways. These reactions manifest themselves in a multiplicity of actions that we carry out on a daily basis that end up defining
what we do with the limited amount of time we have each day. The manner in which we react and order our reactions to these daily demands is what determines the kind of reactor we are. Whether we are efficient and effective or whether we are muddled up, messy and unclear.

Submarine cable cut cripples Kenya's Internet

Update: It seems that the cable got cut due to a ship that illegally anchored off the Mombasa coast in a restricted via which the TEAMs and EASSy cables make their terrestrial landing. Both cables have been severed. SEACOM is still up and should be carrying most traffic for the region at the present. A fourth cable, LION, which will link the Indian Ocean islands (Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Reunion) should be going live in the course of March. It is expected that the repair to the TEAMs cable will take about 7 days

While details surrounding the circumstances and exact time that the TEAMs cable got damaged are as yet unclear, the incident has severely affected Internet services in Kenya and neighboring countries.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wanna be hip in Kenya? Get a DSLR

I want a camera! No…. let me be more specific…. I want a DSLR camera (Digital SLR camera). And I have also realized that if I expect to be perceived as someone who is in touch with the times I must have a DSLR camera. This realization has gradually dawned upon me over the past several weeks as I have observed the increase in proliferation of these somewhat mystical but genuinely sexy gadgets. Mystical because there is a kind of magic that happens when a DSLR is in the hands of someone who knows how to use it and the images that come out of that union are, to say the least, breathtaking. Sexy because the damn gadgets have plenty of buttons, bells and whistles and seemingly cannot be discreetly hidden but bulge, protrude and hang openly with their naked charm out there for everybody to see.

While "keeping up with the Joneses" is something that is generally frowned upon let's face it, people like things, and from time to time there will be that gizmo, that gadget, that must-have doodad, that
makes a social statement which clearly separates the goats from the sheep. The current item that is clearly marking the more progressive in Kenyan middle-class society is the digital SLR camera.
One only has to grace a school swimming gala, graduation or wedding to see the very visible display of DSLR cameras. It is not uncommon to
have tens and tens of Nikon, Canon and Sony DSLR devices hanging around the necks, over the shoulders and in the grips of young urban
professionals at these events. In much the same way that a mobile phone seemed to convey upon it's bearer the appearance of being progressive, techno-savvy and socially fluent, the DSLR camera has solidly stamped it's authority as one of the modern labels of social standing.

Monday, February 13, 2012

For Sale: VOIP Equipment

4 x Cisco ATA-188 Analog Telephone Adaptor
The Cisco ATA analog telephone adaptors are handset-to-Ethernet adaptors that allow regular analog telephones to operate on IP-based telephony networks. Cisco ATAs support two voice ports, each with an independent telephone number. The Cisco ATA 188 also has an RJ-45 10/100BASE-T data port.
Kshs. 8,000 each

1 x Epygi Quadro E1 Gateway
QuadroE1: The Voice over IP Gateway
The QuadroE1 is the complete PSTN/VoIP gateway for growing small businesses that want to establish for example a corporate telephone network.
Connected over an E1 voice trunk for up to 30 (E1) concurrent calls to a PBX or directly to the local PSTN and via Ethernet to the Internet, the QuadroE1/ T1 seamlessly combines the cost reducing benefits of IP technology with the ubiquity of the PSTN, which opens a multitude of scenarios for free phone calls all over the world. Integrated Internet Access: The QuadroE1/T1 VoIP Gateway allows voice Internet access with firewall security, including NAT, policy and service based filtering .
Kshs. 90,000 (Initial Cost 200,000 but I have discounted as this equipment has been sitting in storage for over 3yrs)

13 x SNOM HS-MM2 Headset
This Snom Headset offers versatility and features an intuitive design.The Snom HS-MM2 is compatible with the Snom 320, 360, 370, 820, 821, and 870 IP Phones. Supporting wear on either ear, the Snom HS-MM2 allows you to switch the single ear pad to whichever ear you would like to use. The HS-MM2 also has been updated with enhanced ergonomics and weighing at only 95g this Snom headset is light and offers good wearing comfort. The microphone on the Snom Headset features noice-cancellation and restrains background noise so that you can use the HS-MM2 in any environment. The Snom HS-MM2 is loaded with other business class features such as a flexible metal mic boom, a quick release fastener cord, an adjustable headband and much more.
Kshs. 3,000 as new (Original Price Kshs. 4,500)

If interested, email me offline or call me on the number below.

cell:  +254715964281

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Online Security in Kenya needs to be mainstreamed

Today's(last night's) hacking of the Toyota Kenya website as evidenced by Moses Kemibaro's screenshot - - should serve as a wake up call to CxOs and any organization that has a web presence or online resources.

Especially as it comes hardly 2 weeks after the shameful hacking of over 103 government websites by an amateur Indonesian techie. In this particular case it turns out that all 103 sites were hosted on the same physical server - a malpractice, as far as web-hosting and system administration goes. It is clear that the increase in online threats and cyber-security issues has a lot to do with Kenya's improved connectivity to the global Internet - with 3 submarine fiber optic cables opening the country and sub-region to cyber-criminals and pranksters alike.