NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenyans have taken to the social media to protest proposals in the new Information and Communication Technology Practitioners Bill 2021.
Trending on Twitter under the hashtag Killing the ICT Practitioner many alleged that the bill if passed would stiffle innovation and roll back gained so far in the sector.
Some also claimed that the new Bill will make it difficult for proffesionals in the industry to do their work.
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According to the new Information and Communication Technology Practitioners Bill 2021 “Every person eligible to be registered as an ICT practitioner may apply in the prescribed form to the Registrar for registration in the register, and every such application shall be accompanied by the prescribed fee,” reads the bill in part.
The Bill further proposes the establishment of an ICT Practitioners Institute that will be governed by a Council that will include the principal secretaries from the ICT ministry and National Treasury, representatives from the ICT Authority, and academia.
Other members of the council will be drawn from the Information Communication Technology Association of Kenya, Computer Society of Kenya, and Telecommunication Service Providers of Kenya, (TESPOK).
The Bill proposed by nominated Member of Parliament Godfrey Osotsi comes years following a similar effort by ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru and has caused jitters across the sector.
In 2017, the government sought to enact the ICT Practitioners Bill, 2016 that introduced similar requirements for compliance that service providers working in the sector would be required to attain.
“The recent elections have brought up several issues that need to be addressed such as the unsubstantiated reports of the alleged hacking of the IEBC made by the opposition,” ICT CS Joseph Mucheru said at the time.
“These claims went to more than 200 countries and embarrassed our country because they were unfounded which would not have been the case if the government had credentials of such individuals,” he said.
Like the latest Bill, the ICT Practitioners Bill 2016 proposed the establishment of an ICT Practitioners Institute charged with registering and licensing ICT practitioners on a register as well as approving training programmes and advising the government on industry policy.
According to the ICT Practitioners Bill 2021, the ICT Practitioners institute will publish all registered service providers in the Kenya Gazette together with their addresses and qualifications annually.
The Bill further introduces minimum qualifications that individuals must attain to receive certification by the Institute, failure to which they will be barred from practicing.
“A person shall not be entitled to recover a fee for ICT services unless such person is licensed under this Act,” states Section 27 of the ICT Practitioners Bill 2020.
The Bill has been criticised by players in the sector as regulatory overreach by the government, with many taking issues with the requirements such as a college degree, three years’ experience and a registration fee to be certified by the Institute.
According to the Bill, any member of the public that is dissatisfied with the services of an ICT practitioner can make a written complaint to the institute for intervention.
The Institute can suspend an ICT practitioner or strike their name off the register if the individual is found guilty of impropriety or misconduct in respect to his or her profession