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Kenya's ICT Practitioners Bill 2016 denounced

Kenya's ICT Practitioners Bill 2016 denounced

ICT sector experts and other stakeholders have expressed deep concern over Kenya's plan to enact the ICT Practitioners Bill 2016. Although the country's ICT Ministry has reportedly distanced itself from the Bill, it remains under consideration by Kenya's government and some analysts believe, if passed in its current form, could result in the demise of the East African country's technology sector.

The legislation covers the establishment of the ICT Practitioners Institute, the registration of ICT practitioners, the licensing of ICT Practitioners, as well as enforcement of the law.

The Bill is contained in the Kenya Gazette Supplement No 84 and sets out, amongst others, specific conditions under which a person can be eligible for registration as an ICT practitioner.

The proposed legislation also makes provision for the establishment of the ICT Practitioners Institute, a body corporate governed by a council and empowered to establish standards of professional competence and practice.

According to CIO East Africa the ICT Ministry Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru has stated that the law did not originate from the Ministry and is not in line with official government policy.

The Bill remains the subject of an online petition currently running on website.

Analysts have described the proposed legislation as restrictive, harsh, and limiting, and believe it is unlikely to be passed in its present format.

ICT veteran Adrian Schofield says at first reading, it appears that the legislation will stifle the ability of the Kenyan ICT industry to support that country's socio-economic development. "There is a global move towards adoption of professional standards of behaviour by ICT practitioners, but this Bill goes beyond the best practices into excessively restrictive controls," he says.

Schofield shares the concern of several commentators that if enacted as it stands, the Bill will not only limit who can be a practitioner and who can employ practitioners, it also seeks to control the fees that may be charged.

Waudo Siganga, a member of the Africa Information and Communication Technologies Alliance (AfICTA) representing Kenya, does not believe Kenyan authorities have given the legislation sufficient consideration and it seemed as if the ICT Ministry was not part of the process.

Asked if he believes the Bill will be passed into law in its current format, Siganga said, "I am not familiar with the process but if perchance it is passed, I am sure, based on my experience, that it will not work ... It is not the Kenyan government involved. Someone/some people has/have drafted it and given it to their MP friend to table in Parliament as a private members motion."

Danson Njue, Research Analyst, Middle East and Africa at Ovum, confirmed that regulation of the industry lies at the heart of the Bill, but the legislation it contains may be punitive considering this time of increased internet penetration and in which many ICT professionals are self-taught.

"The bill requires an ICT Practitioner to satisfy certain qualifications, key among them, a university degree and relevant work experience. The ICT sector already creates many job opportunities in the country," says Njue.

"It's highly unlikely that the bill will be passed in its current state. I expect a series of amendments. It may not be clear for now which amendments my take place but the CS in the ministry has already stated that the bill will have to go through stakeholders consultation before it becomes law. There are many stakeholders in the sector and each one of the will have a different view and demand in regards to the bill," he adds.

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