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Friday, September 30, 2011


TKL CEO Ghossein
There is a cable that runs the length and breadth of this country; the National Optic Fiber Backbone Infrastructure (NOFBI) and it is owned by the Government of Kenya. It goes to the remotest of locations where private cable operators like Kenya Data Networks and Jamii Telecom would not venture.

It is run by Telkom Kenya but it carries very little traffic simply because it is unreliable and has too much downtime. Right now, efforts are underway to change the way it is managed and even suggestions of splitting management of different sections and handing it to different players has been floated.

Telkom Kenya which got the deal to run the cable mostly because when it was laid it used to terminate at TKL's offices in different towns as the company was then state-owned.

TKL was to avail the capacity to other operators at a given costs as government wanted it to be affordable.

That however has proved to be unsustainable as TKL claims the money it gets is not enough for it to operate and maintain NOGBI.

Government is pissed. Language coming from top officers in the Ministry of Information and Communication suggests Telkom may just get the boot.

TKL claims it has come to an understanding with other operators where they will share the maintenance costs and TKL will run and maintain the cable and also sign Service Level Agreements but the government is not buying it.

Telkom insiders claim government misunderstands the issue but government claims TKL have messed up and it is time to figure out how to throw them out.

"They are messing. They have messed. I think we'll have to take it (NOFBI) away from them," a source at the Ministry said.

Watchers of all this unfold like Safaricom say they have no strong feelings about the issue. "Between KDN, Kenya Power and Jamii there is enough cable in the country," one Safaricom exec said. "What Mickhael (Telkom CEO) should do is just tell the government, pay me nothing, just give me the cable, let me run it and I'll even pay you."

AccessKenya on the other hand prefers a sort of consortium to be formed to run NOFBI.

Either way, this is an important resource that should not be wasted. Particularly, when counties come into place, some of them could decide to build fiber to home and connect to NOFBI bringing high speed internet access to their citizens.

Not only would this promote growth, it would also thwart telecoms efforts to charge an arm and a leg for data access on the maddeningly, unscrupulous premise that; "We have to recover our costs."

Of course you have to recover your cost of investment but who said it should happen in two years? Should apartment rents be charged at Sh200,000 so that the building owner can recoup his investment? What happens after he recoups? Is he or the telecom going to offer the service for free or at cost since they have recouped their costs?

Nairobitech thinks NOFBI should be placed in the hands of the entity that safeguards such a utility best and promotes last mile projects best.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dorothy Ooko to Google EA? Nokia's spokesperson says Sayonara.

Ooko at the iHub
Is Dorothy Ooko leaving Nokia for Google? The Nokia spokesperson for East, Central and Southern Africa and the public face of the handset vendor for many years wrote us an email yesterday saying she was moving on but did not say to where.

Here's the text of the email:

Dear friends, partners and collaborators,

One of my greatest passions is the continent of Africa and being able to provide services that transform the lives of its people. I am glad to have been able to do this at Nokia.

However after almost 5 years at Nokia it is time for me to move on. I am still privileged that l will be able to continue doing what l am passionate about in a different company and serving the people of Africa.

Thank you all for all your support and cooperation while at Nokia. I sincerely hope we will continue to work together as l turn the page to begin another chapter in my life.

My number will remain the same. I will send you an update of my work email once I have it.

Many thanks and kind regards

The Google Angle
Contacted by phone, Dorothy would not say where she was moving to promising to update us in about a week or two's time.
"I'm not saying anything," Ooko told us when we tried to get her to confirm on phone that she was indeed moving to Google.
But Nairobitech can almost authoritatively conclude that it is Google she is moving to.
For starters, the company has been looking for a Communications Officer for the last year or so. A number of PR types and Business/ICT scribes have been interviewed and given regrets by the Google Africa Comms, Julia Taylor.
Secondly, we spotted Dorothy at the Google G Kenya 2011 event two weeks ago. That is very strange given that Google is trying to grow its Android Apps store at the same time Nokia is trying to grow Ovi Store.
She was quite keen to know how the press sessions could have been improved but we didn't pick up on it then.
She says she has been serving notice and had to wait for GM Ken Oyolla to come back to the country to inform his staff before she made public her departure.
Nairobitech learnt that Ooko will still be in the technology field and since Google has been looking hard for a Comms Officer and Dorothy fits the bill/ She is also fluent in French and knows the region like the back of her hand, it seems like an effortless transition.
She will be one of several additions Google has made at its Kenyan office including the appointment of Olga Arara from Safaricom as country head.
For those interested, Oooko's position at Nokia is open and they are searching for a replacement. Break out your  CVs.
We welcome Dorothy to Google and congratulate her on the move.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Small men can play, talk and sound big when they go online. They may have to ease back into their normal lives once authorities start to call their bluffs. The government is putting together what is by all accounts a cyber-prowling team with mandate to monitor the online space for cyber-attacks (hackers), personal attacks, child pornography and "Material that is offensive with regard to the law." Pause there: Mzalendo Kibunjia has been talking about holding people responsible for what they say online either on Facebook, Twitter and the like and the response has mainly been to scoff at him.

Well we can tell you that as we speak, a team is quietly being assembled and trained within the inner confines of the Communications Commission of Kenya headquarters on Waiyaki Way. The equipment and systems to carry out the monitoring is being shipped in and CCK is working with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to train the cyber-defenders and install the systems.

The official name of the team is the Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT) and it is expected to start work by December, well ahead of the coming general elections.

Besides monitoring irresponsible comments and hackers online it will also monitor electronic transactions.

Right now there are four guys deployed to form the core of the team but it will be expanded.

CCK Acting Director-General, Francis Wangusi, confirmed that the team is undergoing training and a budget for it has been set aside.

The team will coordinate with other national CIRTs so that even those people posting abroad can be brought to book.

Of course mischievous characters can evade this by using sites like, or use of tors or encryption   and even connecting through VPNs but from the sound of it, it seems as if the body will have NSA-type powers of surveillance and be able to carry out things like deep packet inspection and information extraction or force service providers to furnish it with user data.

CIRT will also sit at the apex of other CIRTs based within telecoms and banks as well as other industries where they will coordinate threat analysis and incidence response mechanisms.

It is not clear how this will sit with the protection of privacy online but clearly a debate is set to arise.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Okia Chinaman! Counterfeit Nokia's seized

Over 11,000 fake Nokia items have been seized in shops in the CBD. The Anti-Counterfeit Agency, ACA, along with Nokia staff, raided Sky Building along Luthuli Avenue, Nairobi for dealing with fake Nokia products. A Chinese owner was found at his residence where he assembles parts to make fake Nokia products.

Specifically, the raid netted 2071 counterfeit Nokia handsets (enclosed in boxes complete accessories), 330 separate earpieces and 9084 pieces of batteries.

Kenya Bureau of Standards staff and Kenya Police also took part in the raid. It is expected that these raids will continue. If they anywhere as diligent and concerted as those carried out by the Music Copyright Society of Kenya or Microsoft, then we could see these fake items begin to disappear from shops. But the impending switching off of bogus handsets from mobile telephone networks is expected to deal the back-breaking blow of this industry.

ACA seems to have found some footing at last after dithering about for sometime. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Oceanic oils raided for illegal telecoms activity

It turns out, that the Safaricom/CCK/Orange sting operation was targeted at an illegal Gateways services provider. The culprit can now be identified as Oceanic Oils of Jubilee House, CBD. Equipment was confiscated from the premises where Oceanic is accused of  setting up intelligent SIM servers in the name of GSM Gateways or simply put Gateways. These Gateways have the capacity to transit and terminate international minutes to any telecom network. In the industry, these servers have also been referred to SIM boxes.

The providers of these boxes are now providing very advanced features such as SIM Allocation and SIM Protection. The boxes also include SIM cards storage capacity with capability to store up to 416 SIM cards which can be increased to about 496 SIMs. They do not discriminate on prepaid or postpaid SIM cards, since the boxes can select the most appropriate SIM card according to how it has been programmed such as credit availability, type of service, country, and operator targeted for termination.

To perform this business; one needs a Gateway Licence from CCK. In this case of raid, Oceanic Oil has been terminating international traffic without the requisite licence from CCK. This action contravenes the regulations.

The motivation of this activity is to avoid paying the licence fee to the commission hence denying the commission its rightful licence fees. Besides the licence fees, the government also loses tax money that they would have otherwise collected from the operators. Besides these losses, the quality of these calls terminated are of poor quality this affecting quality of service provided by the operators.

Pictures of the raid will be uploaded soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


A fake phones seller in the CBD is about to be hit in the next 15 minutes by an assorted team of Government agents, CCK, Safaricom and Orange. The agreed time for the operation as of last night is 9:30AM. The owner of the shop (we cannot reveal the name or location at this time in order not to tip them off) is said to be a notorious seller of counterfeit handsets. CCK has issued a deadline for telecom operators to switch off all those using these "grey" handsets and Safaricom says that by looking at its database, it has about 800,000 such users.  The Anti-Counterfeit Agency, which is likely to be part of this morning's sting operation, has claimed in the past it needs to be trained before it can carry out raids. Blogger Robert Alai was on their case recently telling them they needed no training to walk down Tom Mboya street and see the number of counterfeit dealers operating there.

Not so said the ACA. We need a complainant. Apparently, unless a handset vendor complains to them that their phones are being counterfeited, the ACA has no powers under the current law to act creatively and proactively. It is a reactionary body.

Today is expected to be one of many sting operations to come. 

To check if your phone is genuine, get your IMEI number by pressing *#06# on your mobile phone.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

CMC saga - Mobicom men gun for Muthoka

Ousted CMC Chair Peter Muthoka
Is Peter Muthoka's gig up? After barely warming the seat he took over from Jeremiah Kiereini as CMC Chairman, Muthoka was muscled out and by all indications flung out into the streets. Joel Kibe, CEO of Mobicom replaced him as chair. His MD, Bill Lay, formerly of General Motors, even called a press conference the other day and basically called Muthoka an embezzler who was hitting the firm for millions in opaque transactions. Muthoka is also the MD of Andy Forwarders, a logistics firm (think DHL, Transami, Siginon Freight etc). Andy Forwarders has exclusive contract to handle CMC's logistics including shipping imports, clearing and forwarding (and that includes the Passat's the government bought).

After getting the mighty boot from the other directors, followed by the damaging press conference, Muthoka hit back with press ads where he promised the matter would not end there.

Basically, besides milking CMC through exclusive contracts that he had given himself, Muthoka is also accused of overcharging CMC in clearance fees at the Port. Bill Lay claimed that when he was MD at GM, Muthoka used to charge him a third of what he charges CMC basically implying Andy Forwarders was inflating the bills.

Muthoka claimed he gives CMC serious business by buying trucks for his business from the firm. CMC is the vendor of heavy commercial vehicles like Nissan Diesel (UD). But according to management, Muthoka was buying the trucks at under quoted prices.

His logistics contract was cancelled.

Muthoka says he will not take it lying down although he hasn't been taking phone calls. By any measure, the man has formidable resourcefulness. CMC was not his only contract, otherwise he would not have shaken President Kibaki's hand at KICC when Kenya Revenue Authority was was issuing certificates and trophies for best taxpayers in the country.

He also does business with Safaricom and EABL. For starters, it seems he is a good man to do a favour for. Reports claim the man routinely hands over brand new Range Rovers to win business. It is said that at Treasury one lady found herself the proud owner of the said vehicle after the Passat deal was inked. Two guys at one of the two companies named above also received Range Rovers while at one of them, a briefcase full of cash was enough to secure business.

At EABL both DHL and Transami were booted and Andy Forwarders given the logistics contract.

At the last meeting where he ran out of aces, Muthoka is said to have threatened Bill Lay.

Enter Mobicom: Unfortunately for Muthoka, in this latest battle he seems to have come up against a formidable and implacable foe. The Mobicom duo; chairman Paul Ndung'u and chief executive Joel Kibe. Mobicom has an interesting story behind it but the long and short of it is that Ndung'u has promised to deal with Muthoka completely. To finish him. This puts Muthoka, who is said to also do business for Moi in some places, in a sticky situation. The forces ranged against him may call upon influence from highest echelons in the land. Mobicome has also made a lot of money first as the biggest Safaricom dealer for about 10 years (it's now a Super dealer for Orange) as well as running SMS lottos like Shinda Smart which raked in hundreds of millions.

Given that Muthoka is not that well liked by those who've met and dealt with him, many palms must be rubbing with glee across the business world. So the question must be asked, Is Peter Muthoka's gig up? It may perhaps, be early to draw the curtains but one thing is for sure; It is unlikely that Andy Forwarders will make the cut for best taxpayers in its category this year.

Internet Governance Forum comes to Kenya

So you already know that Kenya is now one of the hosts of the internet's root servers. These are servers that hold the basic lists of top level domains. Connected together, these servers form the internet. The root server based near YMCA was set up by the ICANN. Anyway, the Sixth Annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) conference is scheduled to take place in Nairobi Kenya from 27-30 September 2011 at the United Nations Office in Gigiri, Nairobi (UNON). The issues to be discussed include:

What role are mobile networks playing in providing Internet access to citizens and what needs to be put in place to promote mobile Internet and enhance local content development?
Cyber security and Privacy: What policies are required to increase and improve co-operation in this area to ensure that strategies are consistent with policies that protect society while advancing innovation, growth and development?
·         Cloud Computing: What is cloud computing and what are the critical issues in determining the pace and level of development of the cloud?
·         Other thematic areas such the concept of creation of “Knowledge Societies” in cyberspace, content generation, guarding Internet freedom, preserving linguistic diversity, particularly promotion of multilingualism in cyberspace as a commitment toward supporting the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity adopted in 2010 and the Recommendation on the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace adopted in 2005.

 Activities on these dates:

  • 26th September 2011- High level Ministerial Meeting at UNON
Cocktail & Launch of GSMA Report at Tribe Hotel
  • 27th September 2011 – Opening Session at UNON
  • 28th September 2011- Business Round Table at  Tribe Hotel (2-4)
-Cloud Computing Research at UNON
  • 29th September 2011 –IHUB Visit
  • 30th September 2011- Public Lecture at KICC (9-12) 
Khweza consulting of Nairobi is making the arrangements for scribes wishing to attend.