Kenya IGF

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is an open and inclusive multi-stakeholder forum where public policy issues related to key elements of Internet governance issues, such as the Internet’s sustainability, robustness, security, stability and development. The United Nations Secretary-General formally announced the establishment of the IGF in July 2006 and the first meeting was convened in October 2006.

The purpose of the IGF is to maximize the opportunity for open and inclusive dialogue and the exchange of ideas on Internet Governance (IG) related issues; create opportunities to share best practices and experiences; identify emerging issues and bring them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public; and contribute to capacity building for Internet governance.

The event brings together stakeholders representing government, the private sector, civil society, the technical and academic community, and the public in an informal setting  for policy dialogue on Internet governance issues on an equal basis through an open and inclusive process. This type of cooperative engagement is usually referred to as the multistakeholder model of Internet Governance, which is one of the key features for the Internet’s success. This model is paramount to ensure that the Internet remains sustainable for economic and social development.

The forums are localised and their outcomes feed into each other from country to the global level. The outcomes of the country level (Kenya IGF) feed into the regional level (East Africa IGF), continental level (Africa IGF) and ultimately at the global level (IGF). Previously, Kenya hosted the East Africa IGF in 2009 and thereafter, the global IGF in 2011 in Nairobi.

This year, the 13th Annual Global IGF Meeting convened by the United Nations, will be hosted by the Government of France and is scheduled to take place on 12 – 14 November 2018 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France.

2.0 State of ICT in Kenya

According to the Communications Authority, Kenya has 42 million mobile subscribers; 30 million mobile money subscribers who made 308 million transactions valued at 1.7 trillion between October – December 2017. During the same period the internet data subscriptions stood at 33.3 million while the number of broadband subscriptions stood at 18 million. Kenya’s current international Internet bandwidth available in the country (Lit/equip capacity) stands at to 3,182.592 Gbps. Further, according to the Kenya Network Information Centre (KENIC) the total number of domains stood at 73,972 with “” recording 68,430 domains and “” recording 414 domains as at 31st December 2017. Moreover, during the period, The National KE-CIRT/CC analyzed and validated the 4,589 cyber threats and also identified 539 cyber threats that were critical and required immediate response.

More importantly, ICT contributes significantly to Kenya’s economy. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) 2018 Economic Survey, ICT has transformed society and has spurred the economy by offering services through online platforms whether in the provision of government services, business and e-commerce, research and transfer of knowledge, and so on. As evidenced from the above statistics, these developments, according to KNBS, led to the value of ICT output in the economy increasing by 10.9% to KSh 345.1 billion in 2017.

3.0 Kenya IGF

Given the foregoing, the importance of the internet to the development of the country cannot be gainsaid. Modelled on the IGF structure and principles, the Kenya IGF therefore, is a unique platform for all stakeholders to openly share perspectives and concerns on the key issues that may affect the future of the Internet users in the country and across the globe in general.

KICTAnet in partnership with Industry stakeholders, convenes and organizing the Kenya IGF. This has been the tradition since the 1st edition of the Kenya IGF, which was held in 2009. The Kenya IGF has been hosted and convened by KICTAnet in every successive year since then. This year commemorates the 11th Edition of Kenya IGF. In 2017, the event was attended by close to 250 participants from across the country and a similar number is expected this year. The outcomes of the Kenya IGF will feed into the African IGF and Global IGF later this year.

The Kenya IGF 2018 shall be held on 19 July 2018 at the Panafric Hotel in Nairobi.

KICTAnet works with partners and sponsors to make the event a success. The willingness of your organization to partner and support the event is an indication of your commitment to the development and growth of the internet in Kenya.

4.0 Theme

The theme for this year’s IGF will be “ICTs for Kenya’s Development: Getting Everyone on Board”.

The sub-themes prioritized for discussion which will help in framing the discussions are:

  1. Enhancing Cybersecurity for development
  2. Harnessing ICTs in Government (eCitizen, IPRS, IFMIS, iTax etc.)
  3. Safeguarding Privacy and data and the EU GDPR
  4. Content Regulation on the Internet*
  5. Developments in Fintech and E-commerce
  6. Emerging Technologies Trends (AI, distributed ledger, robotics etc.)

The themes are suggested by subscribers on the KICTAnet listserv based on on topics that are of interest to Kenya. A selected team of members volunteer annually to sit on the Kenya IGF Organising Committee, known as the Multistakeholder Advisory Group (MAG). The MAG coordinates and organises the event and also moderates the online debate on the KICTAnet listserv. Similar online debates are concurrently held on industry listservs such as skunkworks and the security lists and also on social media. The KICTAnet is open for subscription at

5.0 Expected Outcomes

The main outcome of the Kenya IGF is to maximize opportunities for open and inclusive dialogue and the exchange of ideas on Internet Governance (IG) related issues. Others include:

  1. Creation of opportunities to share best practices and experiences;
  2. Identification of emerging issues and bringing them to the attention of the relevant bodies and the general public; and,
  3. Contribution to capacity building for Internet governance.

6.0 Participants

The participants will consist of 200 individuals representing various sectors including: government, the private sector, civil society, the technical and academic community, and the general public.

Further, the Kenya IGF will feature an award ceremony for the 40 participants of the 2nd edition of the Kenya School of Internet Governance (KESIG) which shall be held on 16 – 18 July 2018. The School is an initiative of KICTAnet and other partners, to promote awareness and knowledge of stakeholders in Kenya to enable them contribute actively to Internet Governance.

7.0 Methodology

The format of the Forum will include:

  1. A High-Level moderated panel session
  2. 4 Thematic moderated panel sessions
  3. Moderated plenary discussions

Registration for the event will start at 8.30am on the material day and the discussions will run 9am-5pm.  A networking lunch and coffee breaks will be provided. It is also expected that a fireside event (evening panel session) will take place followed by a networking cocktail. The event is free to attend.

8.0 Programme

Time Agenda Moderator
8:00 – 8:30 am Arrival and Registration
8:30 – 9:00 am Welcome and Introductions

Background to IGF

Opening Remarks

9:00 – 10:00 am High Level Panel: ICTs for Kenya’s Development: Getting Everyone on Board


Francis Wangusi, DG, Communications Authority (CA)


Hon. Gideon Moi, Senate ICT Chair/ Sen. Abshiro Halake


Prof. Winnie Mitullah, Head of IDS, UON

Wanjiru Gikonyo, TISA

Hon. Kisang’, Chair ICT Committee

Moderator: Beatrice Marshall

What role can fb/whatsapp play in enhancing devpt

What is the lay of the land

What needs to be done

10:00 – 10:30 am Plenary Session
10:30 – 11:30 am Tea Break
11:30 – 12:30 pm Session 2: Developments in Fintech and E-commerce


Moderator: Ali Hussein

Session Questions

Stats on use of services

fintech mobile lending

Data usage and profiling

market response

Regulatory issues

Business models

Cost of services

Financial inclusion

Equality and income distribution in the counties

12:30 – 1:00 pm Plenary
1:00 – 2:00 pm Lunch Break
2:00 – 3:00 pm Session 3: Strengthening Data Security in the Context of Emerging Trends


William Makatiani, Serianu

Grace Mutung’u, KICTAnet

Vincent Ngundi, CA



Rep. Egov services – itax, ecitizen, iprs, ifmis

Moderator: Racheal Nakitare

Session Questions

E-govt services (itax, ecitizen, ehealth, iprs, )

Critical infrastructure

Data in hands of private sector/3rd parties



3:00 – 3:30 pm Plenary Session
3:30 – 4:30 pm Session 4: Content Regulation on the Internet


Mercy Wanjau, CA

Ezekiel Mutua, KFCB


Dr. Wandia Njoya – HOD Language and Performing Arts, Daystar University

Gbenga Sesan – Paradigm Initiative


Moderator: Dr. Wambui Wamunyu

Session Questions

4:30 – 4:45 pm Actions Points and Way Forward

Rapporteurs Summary

4:45 – 5:00 pm Vote of thanks and Closing of KIGF 2018
5:00 – Tea Break
6:30 – 8:00 pm Session 5: Emerging Technologies Trends (AI, distributed ledger, robotics etc.)  


Bitange Ndemo, Fmr. PS ICT, UoN.

Ory Okolloh

Tim Oriedo

Ife Osaga Ondondo – Head of Legal, Sub-Saharan Africa, Google

Networking/ Drinks and Bites


Moderator: TBC

Session Questions



Written by Mwara Gichanga

Kenya’s financial sector is on the brink of yet another sweeping revolution that will define the playing field in the next decades to come: financial technology.

Fintech, as it is increasingly being referred to, is taking the industry by storm, causing a major disruption becoming a trailblazer and redefining the financial sector in the nationally, region and globally.

In this day of fast paced technological innovations, disruption is the new norm: Uber, Pesalink and M-PESA are all good examples of what technology can do to reconfigure the way we live.

Eric and Francis both agree that the Kenyan Business Environment is certainly conducive for Fintech as Disruption as it turns out, is as much a form of social evolution as it is of technological improvements, internet penetration levels are really high compared to other African states which gives Kenya a great advantage for mobile money transfer.

Banks incorporating FinTech to their solutions

The Banking sector is  actually at the fore front of integrating financial technology into their systems, with the introduction of Pesalink which is a money transfer service from a local Kenya Shillings bank account to another local Kenya Shillings bank account in real-time. It is a collaboration between all local banks who are members of the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) and is managed by Integrated Payment Services Limited (IPSL) which is a subsidiary of KBA. PesaLink is real-time, available 24/7 and you can transfer from as low as KES 10 to as high as KES. 999,999. It is also safe since it eliminates the use of cash as a mode of payment.

With this high rate of adoption of digital financing in Kenya is considered among the highest in Africa. Kenya is now recognized as the home of mobile money, reaping the benefits that come along with it.

But with this subsequent growth, risk is invertible and questions have to be asked especially those that enable and frame policy that will foster growth in this sector.

A new law needs to be enacted yesterday to enable Africa’s first virtual bank to be born in Kenya. Not Nigeria. Not South Africa. This is the birth place of Mpesa for crying out loud! Where we account for 10% of all global mobile money transactions! Yet we have a policy and regulatory regime that is still steeped in the physical cash economy.


We need to consolidate our gains by opening up the policy and regulatory framework to make it easy and fast to move to the next phase of this Fintech Innovation.’’ AliHussein

Will block chain technology affect the market?

The transformation of the financial services industry is top-of-mind for everyone in the field and blockchain might be the hottest topic in the rapidly changing world of Fintech. But how can this technology really help financial firms? This report from World Economic Forum takes a pragmatic approach to answering this question.


Concerns over bitcoin and its underlying technology

Crypto currencies such as bitcoin have started being hyped by block chain enthusiasts. However, the moment CBK will recognise it, its true effect will be seen. Francis Monyango

Similar sentiments were shared by Eric Mwangi who argued that in every conversation it is said that “Bitcoin is here and will change everything”. He continued to explain that what all those Crypto-pundits fail to remember or read about is at the beginning of the boom there were Netscape, Yahoo, AOL, Lycos Alsta Vista etc. the outcome yielded different winners: Amazon Google, Salesforce etc.

Again, as with there is something the larger public don’t understand. While the media mulls over Bitcoin and and gives credence to a slew of people proclaiming a “decentralised network that no one will own” to a naive public and convincing them to dump millions into “ICO”, there is something else happening. Consider FAAMG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google) do you think it’s a coincidence they are major deployments for many Blockchain networks?

As with previous games the winners are already taking in massive rewards because they are already hooked into an existing IT and Banking Infrastructure. Currently investments are only flowing into Blockchain infrastructure that must be enterprise grade. Same as the Internet didn’t make IT departments irrelevant, Blockchain will not replace IT departments. What will change is the speed and types of skillset needed in it. There will be no immediate shift to everything Blockchain – there will be long periods of co-existing and integration with existing IT systems. However Blockchain will lead to a strong surge in cloud adoption.

The consequence of Blockchain among consumers will be most felt in Infrastructure were developments relating to Identity, Privacy and Security are taking shape.




Highlights: Facebook Open house Ke

Written by Mwara Gichanga

As the world’s biggest social network, Facebook has held a contentious place in the ongoing debate about what role social media is playing in how information is spread around the world today. The norm is that more conversations has moved online and with that a lot of hateful, ugly and false information as well. Facebook has therefore taken responsibility to counter attack content that is unwarranted by creating a platform dubbed hard questions to encourage community reporting so as help the platform  flag down such content.

Facebook in conjunction with The Kenya ICT Action Network(KICTANET) brought the conversation home by organizing an open house at Villa Rossa Kempisnski Nairobi, to spark conversation about Facebook’s role in reporting and flagging down content that is considered hate speech and one that is false and incites violence, especially now that Kenya is approaching the elections. With the hashtag of event agreedupon through public participation #OpenHouseKE

The event saw the CS of ICT Joe Mucheru joining in on this critical conversations as questions on what his ministry is doing to cub the issues of cyberbullying and fake news, the CS was careful to point out the importance on person online responsibility and further encouraging that action starts with the mwananchi taking initiative on reporting on such cases on social media platforms like Facebook, giving an example of Mutahi Ngunyi’s Youtube channel which the CS thinks should be taken down as it crosses the line of freedom of expression and hate speech.

Ebele OkobiHead of Public Policy in Africa highlighted the importance of community reporting, as Facebook has 2 billion users and only a fraction of that population report cases of , Ebele continued by explaining that FB content regulation is global, there are no rules for specific countriestherefore the company announced a new plan to add 3,000 more people to its operations  to the additional 4,500 to be able to screen for harmful videos and other posts so as to respond to them more quickly in the future.

One of the more prominent question at the open house was issues of context and intent measure when it comes to what content gets pulled down and Ebele explained that figuring out what constitutes hate speech and what should be removed is the largest challenge Facebook faces. Sometimes it’s appallingly obvious when hate speech is just that and there sometimes, there isn’t a clear consensus because the words themselves are ambiguous, the intent behind them is unknown or the context around them is unclear.  So, in order to figure out what actually is hate speech, the company looks at context and intent before taking action and works with growing public policy support together with the community to establish the ever evolving intent in content.

Facebook is working with local groups in Kenya such as Article 19, calling the working group Trust Flags to pick out serial reporters and also help Facebook understand context.

On Fakes News Ebele spoke on media houses and bloggers working on ethical credibility on news or information shared and their responsibility to the  public by promoting education  on news literacy.

The issues were too broad to cover at the limited time at the open house but as pointed out by Grace Githiaga a co-convener at KICTANET the conversation still continues on the KICTANET mailing list, so that the public is able interact with Facebook and have a deeper know how on applying the laws that govern us offline do the same online.




Cyber-bullying: Highlights of KIGF 2017 Online discussions

Article written by Mwara Gichanga

As the online discussions carried on throughout the week, online/cyber-bullying also came up as point of discussion especially in this digital era where most conversations have moved from offline to online platforms.

To grasp the gravity of the issues concerning online bullying we must first understand what it is.

Ronald Ojino described Cyber-bullying as any form of bullying which takes place online and is available on a range of platforms including new interactive apps, games consoles, social networks etc. where most young people spend their time.

What are the Trends?

Statistics show that 87% of today’s youth have witnessed cyberbullying (mcfeeintel security) and nearly 69% have experienced it, 41% of that being Girls while 28% Boys (cyber-bullying research centre)

‘’ In regards to online bullying neither us nor our children are safe. There have recently been deaths directly attributable to cyber bullying where a lady committed suicide and online crime waves like the Blue Whale Challenge.’’ Rosemary Koech

One of the now evolving trends of cyber bullying is the term dimmed ‘Revenge Porn’ and Francis explained it as when a victims private information in form of images or conversations are exposed to the public through social media platforms after a disagreement. An example is Kimindiri and Roshanara Ebrahim. In the case of Roshanara Ebrahim V Ashley Kenya Limited & 3 others (2016), the High Court found that her ex-boyfriend had breached her right to privacy under Article 31 (c). For the breach, the court asked him to pay Ksh. 1 million.

Challenges tackling the offense?

In regards to capacity there is need to invest heavily in cybercrime units in the police force and generally have operations digitized so that our forces are equipped to deal with the new frontier for crime.

One of the main challenges in tackling the offense are finding the main perpetrators, like in instances of mass cyber bullying where stories go viral in various channels, it may be impossible to even know the person who originally posted.’’ Rosemary Koech


What should be done to address this offense?

Kenya Information and Communication Act CAP 411A has not addressed cyber-bullying as an offense, perhaps it’s time the Kenyan government considers revising the statute books to legislate against cyber-bullying to encourage a conducive environment for all online user. Once the section is amended, agencies such as the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) and the Kenya Police should take the lead in creating awareness about cyber-bullying and how to respond to it.

Mildred, Rosemary and Ronald suggested that Charity begins at home and so does bullying. Bullies are created, not born, so the family situation also needs to be addressed. Parents and teachers should have access to tools that can be used to monitor their children’s online activities.

Working with social media platforms such as Facebook to able to flag down abusive/ victimizing content from users, is also a way to stop cyberbullying content/language at its source.


Open issues to be addressed.

Is bullying gloried in Kenyan TV shows and songs?

Should criminal law be used to curb cyber bullying?

This is Internet censorship through the back door

Article Written by Mr. John Walubengo.

Last week, the Communications Authority of Kenya published draft regulations on the use of social media for political messaging in collaboration with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).

The regulations have two components – one on bulk SMS and the other specifically for social media use within the context of political messaging.

The regulations on bulk SMS are actually the second edition. The first edition was gazetted as we went to the polls in 2013 in a clear effort to avoid a repeat of the post-election violence we witnessed after the 2007 general elections.

Bulk SMS involves content service providers (CSP) who buy airtime in bulk from mobile operators in order to resell it to clients, such as political parties, which may wish to send out thousands of SMS or audio messages to their supporters.


Such mass messages may pose a threat to public order, depending on their intent and construction. The proposed regulations are therefore an attempt to curb or contain such political messages before they cause harm to public order. Section 5.3 says:

Political Messages shall not contain offensive, abusive, insulting, misleading, confusing, obscene or profane language.

And section 5.4 emphasizes this further as:

Political Messages shall not contain inciting, threatening or discriminatory language that may, or is intended to, expose an individual or group of individuals to violence, hatred, hostility, discrimination or ridicule on the basis of ethnicity, tribe, race, color, religion, gender, disability or otherwise

Essentially, CPS and mobile operators are obligated to vet political messages to ensure they meet the regulatory expectations above or they would be held liable by both commissions for failing to curb purportedly dangerous messages.

There is nothing very new in the revised bulk SMS regulation except for section 6.2, which now restricts the time for sending out political bulk messages to between 8:00am and 6pm. In addition, section 7.0 also restricts the languages that can be used to only English or Kiswahili.

The time and language restrictions are likely to be contentious, since they betray the inability of our security agencies to take care of us at night as well their inability to decipher all or some of the 42 languages spoken in Kenya.

Either way, the two commissions seem to realise that most political messaging is happening outside the control of mobile operators – through social media sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram and Twitter, and hence the addition of a whole page dedicated to controlling social media messaging.


Whereas the clauses may be well-intentioned, there are issues of conflict with constitutional provisions for freedom of expression, as well as the capacity to enforce the regulations. For example, section 2.2 under social media regulations says:

All comments shall be polite, truthful and respectful.

So who will judge what is polite, truthful or respectful? Last time I checked, politicians, particularly in Kenya, are not particularly polite, truthful or respectful and nothing has been done to them.

So how come we are now more interested in those blogging about it, but not those initiating the hatred? Section 2.3 makes it worse by saying:

It shall be the responsibility of the Administrator of the social media platform to moderate and control the content and discussions generated on their platform

Now, how on earth is the administrator supposed to do this? Some social media platforms contain thousands of users and it is just not feasible to control what the users say – unless you censor every post before it pops up on the social

media platform.

This basically makes you a State gatekeeper without the benefit of the huge budgets enjoyed by the many commissions and state agencies charged with the duty of ensuring a cohesive society.


In any case, even if the administrators had the time, money and resources to police the blogosphere, they would realise most sites support encrypted and anonymous posts that make it virtually impossible to identify culprits.

In other cases, culprits have no problem being identified since they live comfortably abroad, where censorship laws are less oppressive and more in favor of freedom of expression.

For sure, the Kenyan blogosphere is full of hate and tribal venom that need to be toned down. But we must be careful not to adopt regulations that would set a precedent that may take us down the memory lane of the Nyayo-era oppressive regime.

A better approach to hate speech and incitement online should be reviewed in light of Article 19’s practical guide to dealing with such cases using their six-part test.

Remember, these regulations, if adopted, will apply beyond the election period, when the threat to public order would no longer apply. What chilling effect would they have on freedom of expression and association?

This article was first published on the Nation Media Website . Mr Walubengo is a KICTANet associate and a lecturer at Multimedia University of Kenya, Faculty of Computing and IT. Email:, Twitter: @jwalu

The Kenya ICT Action Network is a Multi-stakeholder platform for people and institutions interested and involded in ICT policy and regulation. The network aims to act as a catalyst for reform in the ICT sector in support of the national aim of ICT enabled growth and development.

KIGF 2017: Highlights of Day 1 online discussions

The pre-KIGF online discussions started on 22nd July with day one on questions about Internet Shutdowns. Internet shutdown is one of the methods of Information Controls. Technical experts have defined it as “intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable, for a specific population or within a location, often to exert control over the flow of information.”

This topic comes at a critical time where both politicians and Internet users heavily depend on the Internet in accessing and disseminating information. The discussions focused on whether it is possible for the Governments to order and carry out an Internet Shutdown during the elections period and how it should be carried out. Andrew Alston and Mercy referred to the constitutions pointing out the rights to access information which should only be limited when provided by law.

On the possibility of a successful Internet shutdown, listers asked on the capacity of service providers to distinguish between social media and other contents as this would determine whether an Intended shutdown could be fractional or wholesome.

In the case of mobile providers this differentiation capability may well exist and it could be a fairly simple process.  In the case of a wholesale provider who believes that packets are packets and does not get involved in what content is inside those packets, it becomes a very different story. Andrew Alston.

Mercy Mutemi argued that politicians from different divides benefit from information reach to citizens as they use the Internet for campaigns and in spreading propaganda. They would therefore focus on providing alternative information rather than throttling access.

Anticipating shutdowns

Earlier, there were discussions on the KICTANet list on whether it was right for the community to anticipate a shutdown as it would only normalize Internet shutdowns by governments. Grace Mutungu mentioned a possibility of at least a partial Internet shutdown considering that African incumbent governments gave expositions on the ground that the shut downs were to maintain public order.

I think we need to know what government officials mean by ‘things getting out of hand.’

I find shutting down the internet or social media to be such a ‘scapegoat move’ in the sense that it does not address why elements in the state do not feel like part of the social fabric that forms the nation their in. The fact that people in government quarters have been heard mentioning it means it is something they have thought of at some point. It would have been better if they concentrated in creating a nation state where there is little fear of inter-ethnic electoral violence. Francis Monyango

Assurance from the Government

The KICTAnet community also called for government Institutions to assure the public that there are no plans to carry out an Internet shut down.

I attended the National Election Conference which was hosted by IEBC earlier this month. Dr. Wangusi was a panelist in one of the sessions and I asked him to assure Kenyans that there would be no censorship or interruption of communication on the day of elections. He stated that there would be no such interruption. He also stated that election results would be transmitted on a VPN which would see that they do not touch on the bandwidth we would use on the day. Deborah Wanjugu.

Going by the above contribution and the assurance of the Kenya Films and classification Board during the KIGF, so far we have two government institutions have relieved the public of the doubt of interfering with free and open internet access during the elections.

Will it affect the elections?

Questions about the use of technology in this year’s elections have come up every time there is an issue about the transparency of the elections. Listers asked whether an Internet shutdown would interfere with the transmission of results or would provide for loopholes for fair elections. In addition, John Walubengo asked whether it would be possible for the parties to shut down the elections result transmission network to achieve the above objective. We will only get these answers after the elections.

The elections will be carried out manually, and the results announced at the constituency levels. This means that both the mainstream and online media can do their own tallying based on these announcements. However, it is the IEBC’s role to declare the results. Three main service providers will be used to transmit the results to decongest the network and ensure fast transmission.

Trump’s new travel rules. To check-in, or not to check-in the laptop?

Written by Mwendwa Kivuva 

Humans have been traveling across the globe even before borders were drawn for reasons ranging from business, exploration, social, medical, education, and migration. After 9/11, traveling became more complex with tight Visa rules, military grade screening of passengers, and increased surveillance. The latest casualties of these tight measures are ICT savvy travelers.

In March 2017, The US and Britain introduced new regulations for flights[1] from Middle East, and Africa. The regulations ban passengers from carrying large electronic devices citing security concerns. The countries affected[2] were Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. The circular from the US homeland security read:

These enhancements apply to 10 specific airports. The affected overseas airports are: Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), Cairo International Airport (CAI), Ataturk International Airport (IST), King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED), King Khalid International Airport (RUH), Kuwait International Airport (KWI), Mohammed V Airport (CMN), Hamad International Airport (DOH), Dubai International Airport (DXB), and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH).

With the new regulations, any device bigger than a hand help phone should be put in the checked-in luggage, and not carried onboard by the passenger. The listed devices are laptops, tablets, e-Readers cameras, Portable DVD players, and electronic game units larger than a smartphone, travel printers, and scanners.

In the age of Snowden and Wikileaks, these regulations pose a cyber security risk. It gives a window of opportunity for anybody targeting data in the devices to get access to the checked-in devices, usually a laptop. The checked-in laptops of persons of interests will either be cloned, or disappear altogether. A federal agent will mark the luggage of the person of interest, and along the several luggage transfer chain, locate it and remove the laptop and clone the hard disk getting away with a wealth of data. This process can be done by either physically removing the hard disk, using a live CD like Tails[3] to copy the contents of the laptop, or just crack the user account and gaining access to the laptop. This may sound far fetched, but federal agents have been known to go to great lengths to access information they deem necessary in their work.

Airlines have started being creative to help their clients experience the same convenience they are used to. For example, Emirates Airlines has introduced two services to it’s clients[4], a laptop handling service that lets clients use their devices until before boarding, and complimentary laptops for business and first class customers, where the customers are given Microsoft Surface 3 tablets to work onboard. Although this does not remove the security concerns mentioned above, it gives those who can afford a window to be productive while flying.

How do you secure your data while traveling?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation[5], an international non-profit digital rights group based in San Francisco, California, gives some suggestions on traveling with data, especially after the U.S. government reported an increase in the number of electronic media searches at the US border.

  • Store all sensitive data on a secure cloud offering like Dropbox or SpiderOak, or better still on a private hosted server.
  • Use a Chromebook as your travel laptop, which by default store all data on the cloud
  • If you must travel with your data, have two hard drives which you swap on convenience. One with a clean operating system install without any data, and another with the operating system and data, but only swapped when the laptop is in use.
  • Always use full strong disk encryption for all your data.

The next debate on information confidentiality is usually centered around the question, “Why should I care if I have nothing to hide?” The next article will try to answer that question. Do you have anything to hide?


[1] Mideast Airlines Face Laptop Bans on Flights to U.S., Britain

[2] Fact Sheet: Aviation Security Enhancements for Select Last Point of Departure Airports with Commercial Flights to the United States

[3] Privacy for anyone anywhere

[4] Emirates introduces tablet loan service to US-bound First and Business Class customers

[5] Strong Full-Disk Storage Encryption

Maintaining Public Order During Internet Shutdown

Image Credit.

Written by Victoria, from the Bloggers Association of Kenya.

Imagine waking up one day and turning on your computer but you cannot get access to the internet; no browsing, no news, no videos, no internet games, no online chat forums, no social media access. Everything online has been locked out in an instant.

Our world relies heavily on the internet. From communicating with each other to having easy access to a wide variety of knowledge, it is hard to tell what we would do without the internet even for a day.

If the internet was to shut down, the first and most noticeable change will be the huge communication issues. Recently, when a popular communications service provider in Kenya shut down for close to 24 hours, the country was out of a major communication platform. Nevertheless, due to the access to other communication service providers, people were able to communicate with each other.

Imagine a situation where we will not be able to communicate with each other when no service providers can be accessed. We can forget about even having cell phone reception since the cables and satellites that support our wireless phone services will not be able to operate without the internet. We also will not be able to send and receive emails and social media. This would mean the end of easy access to fast-paced information and knowledge.

With just the touch of your screen, we can find out what is happening in other parts of the country from occasional events to even the weather just because of internet access. With no internet, we will have to rely on antenna radio and broadcast television. This would be challenging since most people have transitioned to digital television.

When the internet is shut down, even temporarily, it is viewed as very suspicious activity on the government’s part, especially during an electoral year.

There is a real fear of Internet Shutdowns during this election period (either complete or partial). There seems to be doublespeak from the government (the Cabinet Secretary and Communications Authority of Kenya giving contradicting statements). The basis of the shutdown could be brought about by public order justification for instance: to maintain public order as well as initiatives such as National Cohesion and Integration Commission’s gadgets to monitor hate mongers.

If the internet shuts down during the Election Day, transmission of results would definitely be affected and the said Virtual Private Network (VPN) set to be used to transmit tallied votes could equally be compromised. At a National Election Conference hosted by IEBC in early June, Dr Wangusi, a panellist in one of the sessions, assured Kenyans that there would be no censorship or interruption of communication on the day of elections. He also clarified that election results would be transmitted on a VPN which would see that they do not touch on the bandwidth Kenyans would use on the day.

An Internet shutdown is not the right way to maintain public order. This is because, if the internet went out, it would cause panic in the country. People would start looting, burning things down, and having no regard for local authority. The lack of information when the internet is down will force the government to turn to the martial law to restore order. This would include the local police being replaced by the army as well as new rules like curfews being implemented. This is, therefore, detrimental to a country’s economy.

However, it would be nearly impossible for a government to shut down the entire Internet. Some people in the public have access to a wide range of tools such as VPNs that can easily be used to circumvent any blocks put to deny them access to the Internet in case of an internet shutdown. There are, therefore, too many paths into and out of the country using these VPNs, which have independent providers. The providers who would have to be intimidated for a countrywide shutdown to be executed.

Written by Victoria, from

KESIG 2017: Highlights of Day 3

Written by Samuel Muchiri, KESIG 2017 participant.

If man was left to their own nature it would be very chaotic hence laws are necessary to regulate human affairs and the internet is no exception to this as it was explained by Victor Kapiyo during introduction to legal issues that emanate from this space. There are no universally agreed laws in governing the internet as it is border less, has multi-stakeholder environment and needs cooperation.

Privacy of information is aligned by one’s perception of how private they regard it to be. Gathering of this information by government and businesses has become an area that has led to development of legislation around it. Individual’s information has become a commodity to trade with and hence selling customer’s data is a lucrative business.

Globally both self-regulation and regulation through authorities has become an accepted way of managing data protection. Cyber-crime has been a major threat to this as rise in heinous acts like phishing of user data.

Another new trend being implemented by governments is internet shutdown (an intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications, rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable to a specific population or within a location, often to exert control over the flow of information)as explained by Grace Bomu. Justification for this has been from managing national crises during general elections, national examination, insecurity issues etc.

There are various channels used to participate and contribute in this environment. During the Internet Policy engagement session facilitated by Liz Orembo, participants listed the various platforms they have used to engage in ICT policies These include: parliament, KICTANet and public institutions through their call for public participation. Organization like ICANN, ISOC, DIPLO, KICTANet facilitate training into various domains and also offer fellowships to those who apply for this. These forums have provided growth and development of policy through their open and inclusive approach .

“For one to be in the internet economy one has to start with a domain” Abdalla C.E.O of Kenic stated as delved into explaining the business case behind domain and their genesis. gTLD eg .com, .net and ccTLD .ke for Kenya .tz for Tanzania are regard as top level domains followed by third level domains e.g., A new development was introduction of 2nd level domains that go live from the 23rd July, 2017. This creates an opportunity for domain registrars to gain more revenue channels but also invite cyber squatters (buys a domain and seats on it) into the space.

As passionately put by Gbenga Sessan of Paradigm Initiative the Internet to us was once a thing of wonder – we take it lightly that we send and receive message at press of a button while international postal mail took 3months to get to its destination. We’ve moved from the wonder of access to utilization of internet in health, education, businesses, etc. The real focus of policy should be how to plug Africa’s talent gap with Internet opportunities.

KESIG 2017: Highlights of Day 2

Written by Samuel Muchiri, KESIG 2017 participant.

Internet stakeholders are major contributors to the development and governance of Internet. They were termed as entities that use the internet as was defined by Mwendwa Kivuva of Afrnic. Internet governance categorizes them into 5 or 6 groups that is the government, civil society, business community, technical community, academia and arguably as it was highly debated media.

From a much narrower perspective we also looked at actors who shape and manage the Internet. Some of the major organizations that came out from this discussion are IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) that help set technical standards, RIR’s (Regional Internet Registry) that help distribute internet protocol resource around the world etc.

The Internet model is characterized by an open and free accessible process in development of technical standards and development of policy – the course of action starts from end user e.g. engineers to organization that approve these decisions e.g. ICANN, IETEF.  Forward thinking governments have been involved in these processes although some have come through a learning process into embracing multistakeholderism in which these organizations support.

The development of internet has gone through major milestones in Kenya from the use of satellite communication to undersea fiber optic cables. From use of international channels of connectivity to localization of traffic through Kenyan internet exchange point. From high transit prices of up to $2000 per MB to $4per MB and all this have been Progress within the last 8years. Development of Technical standards have not been left behind either and as put by Kevin Chege of ISOC “open standards enable permission-less innovations e.g. YouTube”

Internet governance (IG) in our country has crossed major hurdles just like the development of Internet. IG was first brought about by technical vs human right contention that arose as was explained by Alice Munyua of Africa Union during her presentation on history of Internet governance. Internet was initially meant for government in and through transitional government National Rainbow Coalition – multistakeholderism was achieved. First government body was established to deal with this and hence the launch of Communications Authority of Kenya. Multistakeholder brought with it challenges and some of them were; it was viewed as a tedious and expensive process, stand-off between government vs civil society and non-governmental organizations, it is hard for government to control internet.

Other challenges that Internet  brought with it that are becoming increasingly had to manage is Cyber-crime which has constantly become a potent issue to deal with. According to 2016 Africa Cyber Security report published by SERIANU crime in Kenya had soared to $ 175 million in 2016. As William Makatiani explained that a typical cyber-criminal in Kenya take their time in surveying their environment and destroy evidence behind their acts hence it become hard for persecution. Emerging reasons for this insecurity were that we do not know ourselves, our enemies, hackers are getting smarter and also that we don’t learn from our mistakes.

“it is important to understand how internet works for us to be able to discuss about internet governance” (AliceMunyua)