In 2016, the first proposed ICT Practitioners Bill was introduced by Hon. Aden Duale to the Kenyan National Assembly, it was however rejected on grounds of repetitiveness. It again resurfaced in 2018 without success and has now been reintroduced to the Kenyan Parliament for gazetting by Hon. Godfrey Osotsi on the 20th of November, 2020.
The new Bill which doesn’t seem to deviate very much from the earlier iterations has resulted in an uproar from concerned citizens and an online petition which has seen 13,267 signatures.
The Bill itself can be viewed here.
SCOPE OF THE BILL
Section 3 of the Bill provides its object and purpose to include the training, registration, licensing, practice and standards of ICT practitioners and for connected purposes.
The 2020 Bill defines ICT to mean “technologies employed in collecting, storing, processing, using or sending out information and include those involving the use of computers, mobile apparatus or any telecommunication system“ under section 2, its interpretation section.
It also defines ICT practice to mean the practice of ICT as the case may be, for a fee or gain either in kind or cash and ICT practitioner (ICTP) as a person registered under it as an ICT practitioner who is also licensed under its section 19 to practice.
Like its predecessor, the Bill makes provision for the establishment of the ICT Practitioners Institute, a body corporate whose duties include the registration and licensing of ICT practitioners for the purposes upon payment of the prescribed fees, which is to be governed by the Council of the Institute.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR REGISTRATION
Section 19 of the Bill prescribes the following qualifications for registration:
- A Bachelor’s Degree in ICT related field from a recognized university. This could be Computer Science, Information Technology, Telecommunication, or Computer Engineering.
- A Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Mathematics, or Physics, with at least one year of post-qualification experience in the ICT field.
- A Diploma in Computer Science, Information Technology, Telecommunication, or Computer Engineering, with three years post qualification experience in the ICT field.
- A Bachelor’s Degree (any) from a recognized University with at least three years of post-qualification experience in ICT.
- Any person who has demonstrated expertise, innovation, or competence in ICT as may be determined by the council.
There are certain provisions in the Bill worth further examination:
- The Bill offers a very broad definition of ICT which could refer to a wide range of services many of which do not require special training for which it requires a license issued by the Institute.
- The registration qualifications provided under the Bill stipulate that graduates and diploma holders from recognised Universities are eligible, however, it does not define the criteria to determine one.
The additional provision also somewhat confusingly, potentially renders the first three redundant and unnecessary as it becomes unnecessary to own a degree or diploma if one could simply demonstrate their expertise to the Council instead. In addition, it does not specify the way and manner such an expertise might be demonstrated.
These conditions, if the Bill is passed, could stifle creativity and cause the loss of many jobs and livelihoods hampering ICT practice contrary to its original aim.
- Yet another sore point is the duration of the prescribed license provided under Section 20 to the registered practitioners, which is merely a calendar month period calculated from the 1st of January to the 31st of December of a year under Section 25annually, rather than a twelve-month period beginning at any point of the year potentially causing financial hardship to ICT practitioners.
In addition, the procedure for renewal for an individual who is unable to renew their license for a year or more is unduly harsh and onerous and might make it difficult for low-income ICT practitioners to practice especially in rural areas with low internet penetration.
These conditions have caused the Bill to be viewed as merely the latest money-grabbing scheme by the Government.
by Favour Borokini