The ICT and digital economy space is set for a major transformation as a technical working group takes office to spearhead reforms in the sector.
The sectoral working group has been tasked with looking into the legal, policy, and regulation framework of the ICT sector, with the aim of proposing reforms that would align it to President William Ruto’s Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda that has an emphasis on the digital economy agenda.
The working group, which was inaugurated into office on Friday by ICT and Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo, will be in office for six months.
At the end of the period, it will be expected to present bills, policy, and strategy documents necessary for the growth of the sector.
The team, which comprises 34 experts drawn from the telecommunications, broadcast, and ICT sub-sectors, will be chaired by Prof Timothy Waema and two vice chairs: Phyllis Migwi and Dr Hanningtone Gaya.
Prof Waema is a renowned researcher and practitioner in the ICT sector who has served as Director of ICT and Director Institute of Computer Science at The University of Nairobi. Ms Migwi is the current General Manager of Microsoft East and Central Africa while Dr Gaya’s career footprints trace back to the Media Owners Association where he served as chair from 2007 to 2008 and to Brand Kenya Board as chair from 2007 to 2015.
This team will be supported by a joint secretariat comprised of lawyers. The team will approach the reforms by forming technical working groups within them which will handle the three different sectors of the industry: telecommunications technology, ICT, and broadcast.
KTN’s Zubeida Kananu, who is also President Editors Guild, immediate former President of the Editors Guild Churchill Otieno, former Nation Media Group Editor in Chief Tom Mshindi, Star Publications (Radio Africa Group) Chief Operating Officer Agnes Kalekye, digital strategist Dennis Itumbi and Acting Director Government Advertising Agency Michael Okidi are some of the members of the sectoral working group.
CS Owalo, while inaugurating the team, said his ministry is adopting a participatory approach that involves actively seeking the views from critical sectors of the industry.
He said the operational environment keeps changing and the sector needs to be proactive instead of reactive.
“If at any given time we think that the ICT, telecommunication and broadcasting tectonic plates are going to settle anytime soon, then we are living on borrowed time,” said the CS. “For us to remain relevant, we have to be innovative, creative, and agile so that we are ahead of that change.”
A key task of the team, he noted, will be to relook at the laws in the sector some of which, the CS added, are outdated. An example he gave is the Kenya Broadcasting Act (1988), Kenya Information and Communication Act (1998), and Postal Corporation of Kenya Act (1998).
“We are actually 25 years down the line and we are still operating on the basis of those legal foundations,” said the CS. “It is important these laws be looked at objectively in the face of the prevailing situation at the moment.”
The CS also pointed out that some agencies under the ministry are operating on the basis of recognisance.