Technology Service Providers of Kenya (TESPOK) is a professional, non-profit organization representing the interests of technology service providers in Kenya, established in 1999, with the main objective being to enable ICT growth and development. TESPOK mission is to be the leading association of choice in peering services and steering ICT development.
The main objectives of TESPOK are to:
- Influence ICT policy and regulations by engaging government at the relevant levels.
- Address challenges faced by Technology stakeholders and provide guidance on resolution mechanisms.
- Provide a forum for exchange of ideas amongst industry stakeholders and development of white papers
- Manage the Kenya Internet Exchange Point in line with internationally accepted best practices.
TESPOK is currently undertaking a number of initiatives in fulfilling its mandate. As a result of the changing role and image of TESPOK, its services have been aligned to position it as a major industry association and business lobby capable of providing leadership and guidance in matters more than simply ICT. Four key areas of synergy and industry alignment that have facilitated this are:
- IP address management and policy development
- Domain name stability and growth
- Industry capacity building to fill skills gaps
- Cyber security deployment and reporting
Since its inception, TESPOK’s strength and credibility has continued to rest on its ability to be truly representative of the ICT industry as a whole, as it keeps Kenya connected. TESPOK’s key services offered to its members are:
- Policy advocacy: ICT policy advocacy is at the core of the establishment of the organization. It formed the basis of the various industry competitors coming together to establish common positions so as to engage government jointly.
- Industry capacity building programs: Technological advancements have required continuous skills development for industry technical teams on implementation of established standards and industry-wide best practices.
- The Kenya Internet Exchange Point: Facilitating faster communications speeds at reduced prices to the end users and keeping local traffic local.
- The Industry Computer Security Response Team: Bringing together the security teams of the respective members to work together in a collaborative approach to keep the cyber space safe.
During these COVID-19 Pandemic period, TESPOK has worked closely with its members to ensure the public continue receiving ICT enabled services, with the telcos and tech service firms working around the clock to ensure their services remain online and reliable.
At the helm of TESPOK as the Chief Executive Officer is Fiona Asonga. Fiona comments, “Due to the interruptions occasioned by the COVID-19 Pandemic, there has been a big jump in the demand for home internet use and it is crucial the industry is able to provide this, so we are trying to establish what support is needed for our members to continue to make this happen. It is a two-way conversation we are trying to facilitate with the relevant government agencies. There has been also increased use of office services moved to the homes and the need of online classes during peak levels of the SARS 2 disease. This underscores the importance of reliable internet connectivity in Kenya that is also adequate and available where and when needed.
New developments like the Global Roaming Exchange at the Kenya Internet Exchange point (KIXP), an international routing hub for the nation’s mobile technology, have facilitated the entrenchment of mobile into consumer and commercial life, not least in the area of banking.
“The Kenya Revenue Authority’s Integrated Tax Management System is heavily dependent on the Kenya Internet Exchange Point (KIXP) for availability to the public and at the various custom points,” Asonga adds.
“The digital learning program has seen learners continue to access learning materials and keep themselves busy, even after schools are closed for several months when the situation demands the lock-downs.
Meanwhile, Internet of things (IoT) developments are also advancing rapidly, another sign that Kenya is becoming one of Africa’s most well-connected countries.
More so, during these troubling COVID-19 Pandemic times, the role of Fiona Asonga as the CEO and TESPOK has shifted markedly, the organization in constant dialogue with government and other agency stakeholders as it attempts to coordinate the industry’s responses to numerous emerging issues at this critical moment of the country’s history with nerves being stretched to the limits.
“We are also constantly in touch with other associations from around Africa and globally and with local and global multi-agencies to share information and experiences to ensure uninterrupted and seamless ICT connectivity, including the safety and credibility of IP addresses.
Within Africa, regulators and policymakers have expressed concerns about international mobile roaming (IMR), especially regarding prices. Considerable dialogue has taken place between regulators, policymakers and industry, which has at times been challenging due to the economic, commercial and technical complexities of international mobile roaming.
Prior to Kenya’s, there was no IXP on the African continent between Morocco and South Africa. In early 2000, TESPOK undertook to organize a neutral, non-profit IXP for its members.
After nearly a year of preparatory work, including the design and implementation of a capable technical operation, funding model, and legal framework, the KIXP was launched in late November 2000, located in Nairobi.
Until KIXP, all Internet traffic in Kenya was exchanged internationally, yet about 30% of upstream traffic was to a domestic destination.
An IXP is not an international gateway but a peering facility that enables ISPs to exchange local traffic.
To date there are 54 members already peering at the KIXP ranging from ISPs, government networks, education networks, Internet Backbone Gateway Operators, mobile operators and Value Add Services Providers.
iCSIRT is the Industry Computer Security and Incident Response Team (iCSIRT) for TESPOK. TESPOK works closely with the Information Security community to detect, report and investigate incidents that pose a threat to the security of our members’ information systems.
iCSIRT also investigates other forms of network abuse such as spam, phishing, host compromises, denial-of-service attacks and host vulnerabilities.
iCSIRT safeguards the current and future network security of TESPOK and of the peering members, enabling a secure environment for online activities.
Fiona Asonga has been in the ICT industry since 2005 and during this period, she has represented Africa from 2011 to 2018 as an elected representative of the Number Resource Organization where her role involved coordinating Internet Numbering Resource issues across the five Regional Internet Registries. During the same period, she also doubled as a member of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Address Supporting Organization- Address Council where co-ordination of the development of Global Numbering Resource Policy Development takes place.
She has been a leadership trainer at the ICANN Leadership Academy from 2015 to 2017. In 2018, she was engaged by the Internet Society to develop training material for the Collaborative Governance Project that saw her offer training globally and at USTTI on Multistakeholder engagement.
Fiona Asonga is part of the team of consultants that was engaged to assist the Ethiopian Communications Authority in their ICT sector liberalization efforts, that has culminated in the opening up of this space for a consortium of firms led by Safaricom Plc.
Fiona is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) – Strategic Management at USIU-Africa. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in international business administration (IBA) also from the USIU-A.
She holds additional post graduate certificates in Information Communications Technology from Cisco; Cyber security – Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams trainings in Kampala, Nairobi and Los Angeles; ICT Assisted Development from London, UK; Telecoms Regulatory Training from London, UK.
Fiona Asonga’s role in policy and regulatory matters has had her acquire certificates in Policy Development and Advocacy from International Center for Parliamentary Studies, Training and Consulting Associates and Business Advocacy Fund. She also holds a certificate of Competence in the European Union General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and Leadership certificates from the Collaborative Boston Institute and ICANN.
Fiona other achievements include:
• 2017 Recipient of the Africa Avante Garde Awards for support of the African domain and the African Union Commission’s efforts
• 2018 As a consultant of the Internet Society developed a training program for Collaborative Governance that has been used to improve on stakeholder interaction during multi-stakeholder engagements
• 2018 – 2020 Member of the ICANN GNSO Expedited Policy Development Process seeking to align the domain name community to the European GDPR.
In all these, Fiona Asonga has provided transformational leadership in the areas of ICT Industry leadership, lobbying and advocacy, data management, cyber space protection, policy formulation and advocacy, undoubtedly making her one of the 2022 Business Monthly East Africa Top 25 Most Influential CEO Impacting Business.