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AFRIK-IT  June 2001

AFRIK-IT June 2001

Subject:

State of the Internet in Kenya

From:

Brian Longwe <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 28 Jun 2001 00:25:25 +0300

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (96 lines)

KENYAS DIGITAL DIVIDE  A SELF INFLICTED PROBLEM - A Statement from the
Kenyan ISP Community

Kenyans were the first to begin delivering Internet Services in East
Africa, back in 1994.  Where Kenya once led the way in East Africa, we are
now far behind our neighbors.  What could have been a Digital Bridge has
become a Digital Divide.  To understand the problem one must first look at
the comparative backdrops for the explosion of the digital economy in
Developed Countries, against the frustration being faced by consumers and
ISPs alike here in Kenya.  The problem is fundamentally one of choice;

OUTSIDE KENYA
An ISP in Europe and North America can go to any one of several different
Telcos to obtain Telephone Lines.
An ISP in Uganda can go to one of two National Operators to obtain
Telephone Lines
An ISP in Uganda, Tanzania, Europe and North America can go to any one of
several different companies to obtain point-to-point data circuits.
An ISP in Tanzania, Uganda, Europe and North America can request services
from several different Satellite Service Providers or Broadband Wireless
Local Loop Service Providers.
An ISP in Europe & North America can request services from several
different, Long Distance Fiber Optic Carriers, Short Distance Fiber Optic
Cable Networks, Mobile Operators, or Laser Technologies.

INSIDE KENYA
No Choice.  YOU MUST USE TELKOM KENYA LIMITED

The discrepancy has nothing to do with the availability of funds or
organizations ready to invest.  It is, a direct result of the current
Telecommunications Sector Policy Statement - April 1999, which we are led
to believe is aimed at protecting Telkom Kenyas value during the
Privatization process.  What is being ignored is that Privatization does
not constitute Liberalization.  Converting a state monopoly into a private
monopoly offers no guarantees other than significant price increases.

We are often reminded of the large number of ISPs that have been licensed
in Kenya.  The fact of the matter is that in most parts of the world ISPs
are not licensed or regulated at all.  Indeed the very licensing of ISPs
has white washed the fact that the problems facing the Industry have
nothing to do with the variety of ISPs from which to chose.  The problems
are because regardless of how many ISPs are licensed, they must still ALL
use Telkom Kenya to obtain basic services.  This is why the quality of
services is so poor and this is why we are facing the reality of this
Digital Divide, where Kenyan businesses are becoming less competitive on
the world stage, not more competitive

JAMBONET - THE FACTS

The Telecommunications Service Providers Association Of Kenya (TESPOK)
warned Telkom Kenya Limited in December 2000 that unless they upgraded
their Jambo Net connections and reorganized their routing (as a matter of
priority) there would be a disaster on Kenyas Internet, such as the one,
which befell the country in August 1999.  Our calls were ignored, and for
the last 2 months Jambo Net connectivity has become unworkable.  We have
made repeated appeals to Telkom Kenya to do something about it, and to date
nothing has been done.  Outside Kenya, ISPs would simply have voted with
their feet and gone to another service provider.  In Kenya all we can do is
to continue getting on our hands and knees and begging Telkom Kenya to do
something about it.  The current congestion on Jambonet is costing the
economy millions of shillings, even when they eventually do upgrade the
connection, what guarantees do we have that the same thing will not happen
again and again and again.

THE SOLUTION

This constantly recurring problem would be a thing of the past if the
Government were to liberalize VSAT.  Surely the time has come to stop
holding back the tide.  It is a fact of the economics of satellite data
communications that if Telkom Kenya were providing efficient, cost
effective local & international data
services, the opening of VSAT would have very little impact on their
revenues or profitability.  It is clear that despite numerous assurances to
the contrary, Telkom Kenya simply cannot provide consistent, high quality
International Data Services.  This is a fact, which can be proved beyond
any reasonable doubt by the statistics available.  Surely there is no
justification in todays globally competitive economy for the Government to
be protecting such inefficiencies.  We The Telecommunications Service
Providers Association of Kenya implore the Government to reconsider its
policy and allow ISPs to use their own VSAT terminals.

This public statement has been issued by The Chairman of The
Telecommunications Service Providers Association Of Kenya (TESPOK).  TESPOK
is a not for profit, professional association which represents ISPs in
Kenya.  The Internet Traffic routed by our members represents over 95% of
all Internet traffic in the country.

Richard W Bell
Chairman
TESPOK

---------------------
Brian Longwe
Chief Technology Officer, ISPKenya
[log in to unmask]

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