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Kenya’s controversial ICT Practitioners Bill makes a comeback

Kenya , 03 Dec 2020

The resurfacing of the highly controversial ICT Practitioners Bill 2020 in Kenya’s parliament has resulted in an immediate petition aimed at preventing the legislation’s implementation.

The petition, which currently has over 5,000 signatures, spearheads an uproar within the ICT sector.

Stakeholders are responding to what they describe as draconian laws designed to clamp down on innovation.

Versions of the Bill have been published in 2016 and then again in 2018.

According to the current version, all ICT practitioners will be required to obtain an annual license to practice and will be listed on a registry maintained by an ICT Practitioners Institute under the auspices of the ICT Ministry.

An excerpt from the Bill states: “Information Communication Technology (ICT) means technologies employed in collecting, storing, processing, using or sending out information and include those involving the use of computers, mobile apparatus or any telecommunication system.”

It described an ICT practitioner as: “ICT Practitioner (ICTP) means a person registered under this act as a practitioner who is also licensed under section 19 to practice as such.”

Andrew Alston, Group Head of IP Strategy - Liquid Telecommunications, made reference to the Bill in a blog post (dated 28 November) and said it was “blatant profiteering at its worst”.

He said: “So, what is the ICT Practitioners bill. On the face of it, it’s an attempt to regulate the industry and increase the quality of the individuals working in the industry — by forcing ICT practitioners to be licensed by a state body to which they will have to pay a yearly fee. In reality — it's absurdity (writ large) that is not good for the industry, not good for the country, and not good for the consumer.”

Alston added that the idea of listing ICT practitioners on a public registry is a big blow to the cybersecurity industry, given that the register will detail personal information.

“Wow - that’s going to be a real drawcard for people in the security industry - when some of those people will find their lives at risk because of it,” he added.

Kenyans locked in on social media and used the hashtag #KillTheICTBill to express their views.

Kerr Owino @PharaohMenya

Gatekeepers are taking over. U study, then they tell u to get a license to practice. What does a programmer need a license for? A solar technician, film director? Notice 1 thing, they all need no help from govt to practice. GoK wants poverty, u can't escape #KillTheICTbill

r3klaw @rashiddavid

U look for a degree, then spend like 2yrs learning current tech on ur own, then you pay for a license to practice your hard-earned skills. #KillTheICTBill

It's CodeFlirt @FelixOtieno_1

The ICT practitioner bill is a plot to destroy the #tech industry in Kenya. It is going against the essence of innovation culture that we are trying to cultivate. Sign the Petition and help #KillTheICtBill #technology via @Change

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