Armophous Kenyan ICT Bill Takes Sector Back to Dark Days of Boxing Things

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ICT players in Kenya are up in arms over a proposed bill called the The Information Communication Technology Practitioners Bill, 2016. The bill which will be introduced to parliament soon seeks to register and license ICT practitioners besides standardizing ICT practice in the country. To achieve this goal, the bill proposes the creation of the ICT Practitioners Institute which will be headed by a CEO. The Institute will be governed by a council with members including PS ICT, PS Treasury, an appointee by the ICT CS and 5 persons of good standing nominated by the ICT Association of Kenya.

The bill further proposes that all members involved in the sector must register with the body to be eligible to practice. To register one must be a holder of a degree/diploma in ICT or have 3 years experience in the field or prove to be a member of good moral standing! This means that a huge number of individuals who do not possess these qualifications cannot get involved in the thriving sector.  It further states that one has to pay a fee to register where they will be issues with a certificate which serves as their license.

This is valid for a period of one year where members have to renew.  It locks out individuals without certificates from the craft while at the same time stating that individuals cannot operate firms not unless one of the partners or principal shareholders has a valid license from the body. The proposed bill also has provisions on enforcement with individuals found to have given false information in their registration fined Kshs. 500,000 or risk 2 years in prison. In addition, registered members who are convicted will have their licenses canceled.

You can read the entire document here, which to say the least is ambiguous and excruciating. There is also a petition to President Uhuru Kenyatta on Change.Org asking the president to say no to the bill for which you can also sign up. If passed, the bill will stifle innovation by locking out a large number of individuals who despite the lack of formal training in ICT have managed to acquire the necessary skills such as coding. ICT players lead by Nanjira Sambuli have put up a Google Doc to discuss the pertinent issues that arise from the bill.

If the amounts charged by the ICT Association of Kenya are anything to go by, members will be charged Kshs. 5,000 annually which is a large amount for no particular reason. At the same time, the bill does not offer how it will work with institutions of higher learning to issue accreditation for various ICT programs taught or provide the criteria to be used in determining if an individual is of good moral standing. So why do we need this bill?

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