Since the beginning of the year CCK has been transforming from a Commission to an Authority. The difference between a commission and an authority is not just a matter of semantics; but semantic wise an authority has the sense of power, strength, command and control whereas a commission has the sense of a delegation, a board, or a group of people charged (commissioned) by an authority to perform specific functions.
Semantics aside, Communication Commission of Kenya was charged, by the Executive arm of the government, to regulate Kenya’s information and communication industries. These functions carried under “orders” of the executive were seen as dependent and unfair not only to those being regulated by on the commission too – if the government wanted anything to be done against a player in the industries, the commission had no otherwise but to carry out the orders.
A recent scenario was the war CCK had against Safaricom. Although it is CCK that was seen to have issues against Safaricom’s poor quality of services, the government through the ministry of ICT was too vocal about the renewal of Safaricom’s license and if events could have turned out that the license wasn’t renewed, then I doubt if anyone could have pointed fingers against CCK.
The transformation that CCK was undergoing to become Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) was finalized three days ago in a ceremony that was attended by the President Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta – after he appointed Ben Gituku as the new chairman of CA.
In a statement to Kachwanya.com, CA explained the transformation from CCK to CA thus:
The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) is the regulatory authority for the communications sector in Kenya.
Established in 1999 by the Kenya Communications Act (KCA) No. 2 of 1998, CCK’s initial mandate was regulation of the telecommunications and postal/courier sub-sectors, and the management of the country’s radiofrequency spectrum. CCK’s mandate also includes management of competition in the ICT sector and protecting the rights of consumers within the ICT environment.
In recognition of the rapid changes and developments in technology which have blurred the traditional distinctions between telecommunications, Information Technology (IT) and broadcasting, the Government in January 2009 enacted the Kenya Information and Communications Act, CAP 411A (KICA, 411A). This statute enhanced CCK’s regulatory scope and jurisdiction to include broadcasting and e-commerce. This piece of legislation effectively transformed CCK to a converged regulator.
CCK is now responsible for facilitating the development of the information and communications sectors (including broadcasting, multimedia, telecommunications and postal services) and electronic commerce.
CCK officially commenced operations on 1st July 1999.
Changes brought about by the Constitution
In 2010, a new constitution was enacted for Kenya. Article 34(A) of the Constitution provides that the body responsible for regulating the media in Kenya should be independent of control by government, political, commercial or any other interests. The transitional clauses of the constitution provide that the body envisaged under Article 34(A) should in place by August 27th this year.
In preparation for the transition, a bill to review KICA 411A is awaiting discussion in parliament. The bill proposes that CCK changes its name to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK). The name change is informed by the need to align CCK’s name with all converged regulators most of which use the word Authority instead of Commission… The bill also seeks to enhance CCK (CAK’s) independence as envisaged by the constitution.
Three things are clear from the statement above: 1. The name change also comes with additional scope of duties 2. The name change is in line with the Kenya’s constitution of 2010 and lastly a bill is to be debated and passed by parliament to effect the name change. I will discuss item 1 and the initial CA.
Starting with the latter, one would expect Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) transforming to Communication Authority of Kenya would likewise leap from being CCK to being CAK. Instead, the commission leaped from CCK to CA not K. So you may ask, why is Communication Authority of Kenya not acronymed CAK?
In a Facebook page early this year, in the initial phase when CCK was initiating transformation and some were referring to it as CAK, Cofek asked both CAK and CAK (the latter CAK being Competition Authority of Kenya), to iron out their initials to avoid confusion. It seems that CCK heard them and decided to settle for CA. The drop of K from CAK is not only in the acronym but also in the website where CA’s website has become ca.go.ke, their Twitter handle has become @CA_Kenya whereas the official hashtag on Twitter and Facebook is #CAKenya.
About the new scope, there isn’t any “actually” added scope to the duties of responsibilities that CA will be doing as yet but the manner in which CA will carry out its functions could differ (refer to semantics above). The major difference between CCK and CA is that CCK is to a large extend a body that depended on the executive arm of the government right from appointments of board members to listening to the government in order to perform the day to day duties. But since the new constitution requires regulators such as CA to be independent, the new body shall be able to solely follow its own path (within the legal framework) in carrying out its mandate – not as demanded by the state organs, but as demanded by the constitution and laws of Kenya that touch on the regulation of information sharing, communication and broadcast.
For the current mandate of CA, you could visit this link http://www.ca.go.ke/index.php/what-we-do and if you have any queries concerning CA, [email protected] is open to the public. As mentioned, their Twitter handle is @CA_Kenya for your interaction with them.