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Private sector, legislators differ on proposed ICT practitioners law

By Frankline Sunday | February 26th 2021

An internet cable is seen at a server room in this picture illustration taken in Warsaw January 24, 2012. [Kacper Pempel, Reuters]

Members of Parliament and the private sector are at loggerheads over a Bill to regulate professionals in the technology industry.

The private sector claims the ICT Practitioners Bill, 2020, currently on the floor of the House for the Second Reading, was retrogressive.

“We in the private sector are worried about the Bill and we believe this is not progressive as it will stifle innovation,” said Liquid Telecom Group Chief Technology and Information Officer Ben Roberts.

The Bill, proposed by Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi, will establish an ICT Institute that will register and license ICT practitioners as well as collect prescribed membership fees.

The institute will also be responsible for approving ICT curriculum, setting and administering examinations and arbitrate disputes between practitioners and their clients. 

Increase cost

It will be made up of 10 members including principal secretaries from the ministries of ICT and National Treasury, as well as representatives from private sector associations.

However, players in the industry say the institute will be a bottleneck that will increase the cost of doing business.

“We are concerned that sections of the Bill will stifle innovation and the employment of talent by putting a gate on who can get employed,” Roberts said.

“It will be taking the industry back and eroding the progress we’ve made in recent years.”

William Kisang, chairperson of Parliament’s Committee on Communication, Information and Innovation said the Bill addresses lack of regulation in the sector.

“We’ve gone through the ICT Bill as a committee and our view is all sectors like law, engineering and medicine are regulated by a professional body but there is none for ICT practitioners,” he said.

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