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Kenya's ICT industry backs data law

By Fredrick Obura | November 21st 2019
Panelists at 2019 CIO 100 Summit in Naivasha (PHOTO: Courtesy)

ICT fraternity Thursday threw their support behind the recently signed into law data protection bill terming it a good regulation policy framework for the industry.

Signed by President Uhuru Kenyatta two weeks ago, the data protection Act will put safeguards against commercialisation and misuse of data without approval from the data commissioner and the data subjects.

Speaking at the ongoing three day CIO100 Awards and IT Symposium conference at the Lake Naivasha Resort, Robert Nyamu, Partner and Digital Solutions, Financial Services and Risk Advisory, EY (Earnest Young), East Africa, said the law was a long way coming even though countries like South Africa had already adopted their own General Data Protection Regulation Act:

“This law is good for the country even though we are having it five years after countries such as South Africa has implemented their GDPR.”

Nyamu called for speedy implementation of guidelines and regulations that will support the implementation of the data protection law.

“There is a need for the government to fastrack the composition of the guidelines and regulations around the data protection law by engaging the industry on their sentiments. This will enable the businesses to adhere to the Act for purposes of propelling the digital solution ecosystem.”

At the same time, Louis Otieno, former Corporate Affairs Director, Microsoft4Africa, said the data protection law would help promote trust between businesses and data subjects. However, self-regulation will be necessary for the organisations who are the principal data holders.

On the other hand, the industry leaders called for fair taxation of the digital economy to avoid crippling ICT as an enabler to the economy.

“ICT is an enabler. However, when you create a deterrent to creating growth in the business environment through bad taxation, you are curtailing and discouraging innovation,” said Louis Otieno.

Otieno also talked ill about policies that discourage ease of doing business through heavy taxation compared to the rest of the world.

“Policies in Africa or lack of it has made doing business difficult compared to the rest of the world. For instance, India that has over one billion people just as Africa has created an enabling environment for investors especially when it comes to ICT. We do not need to punish technology but create favourable policies that will spur the growth of the digital economy.”

Otieno also added: “Taxation of the digital economy should be done in such a way that does not create a capital flight or investment.”

Besides, the ICT industry called for the removal of punitive laws that are currently in the social media regulation bill. Laws such as requisition of licenses by bloggers, which impedes on the freedom of expression as well as taxation of Whats App and Facebook group administrators.

However, in situations where admins are involved in criminal activities the law should take its action:
“Communication Authority should remove the clause on the social media regulation bill that requires bloggers to pay fees to acquire a license to operate. This is counterproductive to the business ecosystem,” said Nyamu.

In Uganda, the punitive social media regulation law saw the drop of internet users by 3 million after the government called for taxation in the use of social media platforms.

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