ICT Practitioners Bill 2020 Draws Reactions From Stakeholders

The ICT Practitioners Bill 2020, which was passed by the parliament last week, is causing ripples in Kenya ICT sector. The controversial bill was first introduced by Garissa MP Aden Duale in 2016 and reintroduced by nominated MP, Godfrey Osotsi in 2020. It seeks to streamline Kenya’s tech community by registering, providing standards, and penalizing ICT practitioners who fail to comply with the registration and licensing requirements.

According to the bill, all ICT practitioners must have an ICT degree from a recognized institution. An annual license fee will also be mandatory for them. Additionally, prospective IT professionals must have at least three years of experience to qualify as licensed ICT practitioners.

ICT Stakeholders Say that the Bill Will Affect Kenya’s Startup Economy

The Startup and SMEs Enablers of Kenya (ASSEK) have termed the bill as counterproductive. They also stated that the ICT Practitioners Bill 2020 will spell doom for Kenya’s startup economy. The body further claims that the bill fails to capture the input from the main stakeholders, who are the startups themselves. Citing various successful ICT startups in Nairobi such as Nairobi Garage, Nailab, Gearbox, and iHub, they argued that there is no need for one to have a degree to be licenced as an ICT practitioner.

The Kenya ICT Ecosystem Stakeholders (KIES) which is an ad hoc lobby group says the bill is unconstitutional. They claim that the ICT Practitioners Bill 2020 threatens to erode gains made in Kenya’s digital economy by bottling up innovation and denying young locals jobs in the lucrative digital economy.

The ICT cabinet secretary, Joe Mucheru, also made his position known. He expressed his opposition to the controversial bill on his Twitter handle, terming it a private member’s bill. He promised to continue doing his part to safeguard the ICT sector.

Kenyans have also expressed their views about the controversial bill on social media. An online petition lobbying the president not to assent to the bill has attracted over 14,000 signatures.

Kenya has a robust startup ecosystem which is one of the best in Africa. If the president approves the ICT Practitioners Bill 2020, its survival will be at stake. Industry players say the regulation is irrelevant at the moment. They are pleading with the president not to assent to the bill. For now, it is not certain whether or not the president will approve the bill.

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