There’s a new bill being proposed by some unknown person’s aimed at setting up a Council to licence ICT practitioners in Kenya. Rumours going round say that the bill is being pushed forth by an organization calling themselves the ICT Association of Kenya (ICTAK). I don’t know who this people are since I’m not a member and none of the many veteran ICT practitioners I know are. This bill is simply unacceptable because of the following reasons:
- It proposes that it should be mandatory for every person engaging in any ICT-related activity be registered with it. The circumstances are very ambiguous and require clarification.
- Every ICT practitioner is required to hold a Diploma/Degree in an ICT-related field from a recognized university and has relevant ICT experience of at least three years;
- Every ICT practitioner should satisfy the Council that he or she is a person of good moral character and a fit and proper person to be registered under this Act. How do you prove this?
- Every person registered under the Act who has obtained a higher qualification than the registered qualification shall, on the payment of the prescribed fee, be entitled to have that additional qualification inserted in the register in addition to the qualification previously registered. What?
- It requires that no company be allowed to be registered and carry out operations unless the firm has at least one partner or principal shareholder who is registered as an ICT practitioner and who has a valid practicing licence; and the firm fulfils any other condition as may be stipulated by the Council.
- A licence granted under this Act shall be valid for ONLY one year, for the duration between the 1st January and 31st December in every year, and may, upon expiry, be renewed. This involves payment again!
- The payment is Ksh. 5000 payable annually. This is a lot of money!
- A person whose licence has not been renewed for one year or more and who wishes to have the licence renewed may apply to the Council upon-
- swearing an affidavit in the prescribed form explaining the reasons for non-renewal; Why?
- payment of the license fee for the current license period;
- presentation of evidence to the Council of fulfilment of all applicable conditions for renewal of a license; and
- Payment of annual subscription fee for the current licence period.
- A person shall not be entitled to recover a fee for ICT services, unless such person is licensed under this Act. What?
- There is chance of being fined (Ksh. 500,000) and a maximum of 2 year imprisonment if you provide ICT services without a licence. Seriously?
There are more numerous reasons not to allow this bill to even be tabled in Parliament since it is utterly misinformed. Such a bill will inhibit innovation and the improvement of the ICT industry. The modern world is ruled by IT companies built by persons who would have never qualified to receive this licence. This involves the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, me and many more.
The passing of this bill without any substantial amendments will bring more bad than good in the industry. This will curtail the movement to an innovative and thriving economy since the young kids and university students won’t be able to bring about their innovations for fear of prosecution. ICT is not like Medicine or Mechanical/Electrical/Civil Engineering. You don’t require any formal education to excel in it. In cases such as a website, this is NOT a matter of life or death that someone requires imprisonment of 2 years!
This bill prevents anyone from having providing ICT services, whose knowledge they may have but lack the necessary qualifications. It is incredibly ignorant of the fact that many ICT practitioners currently working in Kenya were trained and take up training from Google and YouTube since our institutions are inadequately equipped to provide the necessary skills. The lecturers are also sub-par to their colleagues in institutions abroad. They provide students with old, ill-researched and scant information on various topics and expect spectacular results. The students therefore result to poor self-learning methodologies that leave them with some skills but still far from useful.
- An industry-wide consortium be consulted when any Bill, Act or Law is required to be formed or amended.
- These Bill be discarded and rewritten afresh with the current ICT industry in mind. They should consider 12 year olds building companies in their bedrooms. Such bills will kill these young minds.
- The required fees be reduced considerably. A person with a simple online portal paying Ksh.5000 for hosting alone won’t be in a position to then pay for some ambiguous fee which he/she doesn’t need.
- The period of validity should be extended like in UK’s case, 5 years. A person cannot be required to remember to pay for this licence fee every year. This is starting to sound like a cash cow for some interested parties.
Sorry for the long read. There’s more to say concerning this bill – not forgetting Safaricom’s horrible m-Pesa API & documentation – but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Think about this and leave your thoughts below! Share and get others involved.
Here’s a link to the proposed bill: http://kenyalaw.org/kl/fileadmin/pdfdownloads/bills/2016/InformationCommunicationTechnologyPractitioners_Bill_2016.pdf
Here’s a link to an online petition on change.org : https://www.change.org/p/president-uhuru-kenyatta-say-no-to-the-ict-practitioners-bill