ICT sector heaves a sigh of relief as Uhuru rejects bill

Thursday, June 23rd, 2022 09:10 | By
ICT Cabinet secretary Joe Mucheru. Photo/Courtesy

Information Communication and Technology (ICT) community in Kenya can now breathe with a sigh of relief after President Uhuru Kenyatta rejected a highly contentious Bill that sought to have all local practitioners licensed and registered by a council.

Industry players vehemently opposed the ICT Practitioners Bill 2020 and called on the president not to sign it into law. The Bill spells out tough conditions for one to practice as an ICT professional and seeks to have all ICT practitioners in the country licensed and registered.

It seeks to establish a regulatory body, the ICT Practitioners Institute headed by an 11-member council, that will be tasked with regulating the industry and issuing licenses to those joining the sector.

Had the Bill been passed into law, one would require a Bachelor’s Degree in an ICT-related field from a recognised university to be allowed to work in the sector.

Opposed the Bill

However, industry players opposed the Bill, saying if passed into law, it will make it difficult for thousands of young Kenyans already working in the sector to eke a living as many of them lack university degrees.  “For us, when you come and tell us that if you don’t have a degree in ICT you cannot be a practitioner legally, it is just so far removed from reality,” said Association of Startup and SMEs Enablers of Kenya (ASSEK) Chairman Robert Karanja.

Similarly, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru voiced his opposition to the Bill, saying it would create an unsupportive environment that would erode the gains that the country has made in the sector so far.

He said it would create a bottleneck whereby the about 10,000 ICT-related practitioners who come into the industry each year will have to rely on 11 persons to enable them to practice. “That’s a bill we’ve never supported. It was brought about three times. People have tried to take this industry captive and we have fought very hard to ensure that is not the case,” he said.

“The President is fairly aware. This is a sector that he is passionate about, he doesn’t need convincing to know that this is a bill that is not the right one,” he added. ODM Party leader, Raila Odinga, in a recent letter to Parliament warned that the bill was contrary to the country’s goals so far as the sector was concerned and would stifle innovation.

“It negates the goals and visions of the national ICT policy and digital strategies. It amounts to regulating talent, which damages innovation and limits growth,” he said.

Renowned IT experts

Others who opposed the ICT bill includes Law Society of Kenya and the Kenya ICT Ecosystem Stakeholders.  An online petition to stop the signing of the Bill that has so far garnered over 12,000 signatures on the platform

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