Kenya’s tech industries slam Practitioners Bill as retrogressive
Kenya’s ICT and telecommunications industries have responded with alarm over the government’s passing of the ICT Practitioners Bill 2020, which is currently under review by the country’s President. This is the last stage a Bill must get to before either being passed into law or being returned to Parliament.
The Bill requires any ICT practitioner to have an ICT-related degree from a recognised university and also pay an annual licence fee.
Additionally, would-be IT practitioners must have a minimum of three years’ experience to qualify as a licensed operator.
It also makes provision for the creation of an ICT Practitioners Institute mandated to govern licensed ICT practitioners and provide relevant training.
The Bill was first introduced in 2016, but rejected two years later. It was re-introduced to parliament in 2020.
Critics have described the Bill as retrogressive and argued it will erode any progress made in the country’s technologies industry.
An online petition featured almost 15,000 signatures by the time of publishing.
The ICT Ministry, through its Cabinet Secretary Joseph Mucheru, has distanced itself from the Bill.
“This ICT Bill is a private member's Bill. As a Ministry, we continuously fought against this Bill in its various forms. The political season comes with all manner of surprises including failed assurances by the people responsible. I will do my part to safeguard our thriving sector,” Mucheru tweeted.
Ben Roberts, Group Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Liquid Intelligent Technologies, has expressed dissatisfaction with the Bill since it was introduced to parliament.
“Last year we raised 14,000 signatures in a petition against the ICT Practitioners Bill. We presented it to the national assembly in public participation, yet MPs ignored and passed the bill,” said Roberts as he urged more people to sign the new petition.
Telecommunication and ICT expert Tom Makau stated, “Globally ICT is more about your talent and passion than what you studied in university. The retrogressive law will slow down innovation and kill talent.”