The Kenyan Parliament last week passed the ICT bill that that requires the training, registrations licensing and a standard for practitioners in this field.
Introduced to parliament by Garissa Township MP Aden Duale and supported by nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi in 2016, the bill required ICT practitioners to be licensed and registered by a council.
Additionally, the practitioners are required to have acquired University education in the field, after which they would pay an annual fee to a body.
After its withdrawal in 2016, Osotsi then presented the bill that was rejected 2018 and presented again in 2020.
The bill that was eventually passed last week and now awaits President Uhuru Kenyatta’s signature to become a law has sparked outrage among the ICT community, who are unpleased by the law preventing some professionals from practicing.
This prompted a petition to stop the signing of the bill that has so far garnered over 12,000 signatures on the Change.org platform.
Speaking to Citizen Digital, Internet Governance lawyer Mercy Mutemi said that the decision to enact the bill into law now solely lies in the hands of the head of state.
Mercy says at this point, ICT Cabinet secretary Joe Mucheru could use his influence on Uhuru to pursue him not to sign the bill into law.
On Saturday, the CS took to social media to assure ICT practitioners that he will safeguard the sector.
“This ICT Bill is a private member’s bill. As a Ministry we continuously fought against this bill in its various forms. The political season comes with all manner of surprises including failed assurances by the people responsible. I will do my part to safeguard our thriving sector,”Mucheru wrote in a tweet.
On the numerous petitions signed by Kenyans online, Mercy said they will need to back it with a solid support which includes writing to the president officially or through relevant bodies.
“What ICT practitioners need to do in order to prevent the law from being signed by the president is write letters to the President instead. The petitions being signed on Change might never reach him or could not be solid enough to get his attention,” Mercy advised.
She further noted that if enacted to law by the president, the sector might lose its top talents who are self-taught.
“The law will derail the milestones that have been made in the ICT sector. This might even lead to loss of jobs, mind you some of the most competent ICT practitioners in the field right now did not pursue any course, or have exemplary skills that they were not even taught in school. There are good ICT professionals who are self-taught.”
On Sunday, Azimio Presidential candidate Raila Odinga opposed the bill, saying there was no clear indication of what the powers passed to the ICT sector will mean.
“I find the move to regulate ICT Practitioners impractical and counter-productive. It negates the goals and visions of the National ICT Policy and Digital Strategies,” the ODM leader said.
Raila added that the bill will also limit innovation in the dynamic ICT industry.