Internet Society Fellow to the IETF Brings Lessons Learned Back to Kenya

By: Carolyn Duffy Marsan

Date: March 6, 2015

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Thanks to the information and guidance he received as a Technical Fellow at IETF 91 in Honolulu, Mwendwa Kivuva, information and communications technology administrator at the University of Nairobi, is now deploying IPv6.

Kivuva, who is also a member of the Consolidated Regional Internet Registries IANA Stewardship Proposal (CRISP) team, gained additional perspective at the meeting on the IANA transition.

Kivuva was one of 11 fellows at IETF 91. The Internet Society Fellowship to the IETF programme provides financial support for Internet technologists from emerging economies to attend IETF meetings, exchange ideas, enhance their participation in open-Internet standards development, and network with individuals from around the world with similar technical interests. The programme raises global awareness about the IETF and develops future leaders from underrepresented countries.

“Attending the IETF meeting [also] gave me perspective,” Kivuva said. “I understood clearly the eight work areas and the working groups in each area. It was great to connect with the people who make the Internet what it is today. Initially, I wondered if I needed special training to effectively work on drafts, but I soon learned that participation becomes more effective as time goes by.”

He notes that the financial support was key. “I am grateful to the Internet Society for the opportunity.”

As a leading network engineer in Kenya, Kivuva was an ideal choice for the Fellowship programme. At the University of Nairobi, his work involves designing, implementing, and managing network infrastructure with a focus on security and performance. He serves as secretary general of the Internet Society’s Kenya Chapter and participates in several Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers working groups. He also moderates discussions via the Kenya ICT Action Network.

Kivuva attended the newcomers’ meeting, as well as meetings related to the working groups that he follows: IPv6 Maintenance (6man), IPv6 Operations (v6ops), Domain Name System Operations (dnsop), and Planning for the IANA/NTIA Transition (ianaplan).

“I realized I was stretching myself by participating in so many working groups. Going forward, I’ll concentrate on only two or three working groups, then increase my engagement as I become more adept in IETF work,” Kivuva said. “Since meeting people in my domain, I have a good grasp on how to participate more effectively and look forward to contributing to the mailing lists.”

Kivuva was thankful for the mentorship of Fred Baker during the IETF meeting. “I liked the mentoring programme,” he said. “It helped newcomers prepare so it was easier to integrate during the actual meeting. Mentors also introduce newcomers to IETF people of interest, like chairs of working groups and area directors.”

Kivuva plans to bring the lessons he learned back to the network engineering community in Kenya. “Other IETF fellows from my country and I plan to have mentorship sessions at local universities and [to educate] engineering and computer science students about the work of the IETF and how they can contribute to it,” he said.

Kivuva encourages the Internet Society to continue funding its Fellowship to the IETF programme. “Sponsoring IETF Fellows ensures that there is diversity in the IETF,” Kivuva said. “More engineers from other areas of the world, not just Europe and America, need to be brought on board. The programme offers exposure to those in developing worlds who could otherwise never attend an IETF meeting or participate in drafts or mailing lists.”