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Kenya likely to pass controversial ICT practitioner's law

Kenya likely to pass controversial ICT practitioner's law

Kenya's government seems likely to pass the ICT Practitioners Bill 2016, first introduced to Parliament in December 2017, and increase the possibility of conflict local ICT professionals.

Speaking at the opening of East Africa Com in Nairobi, Katherine Getao, ICT Secretary at the ICT Ministry said that the ICT Practitioners Bill 2016 will probably become law and blamed the ICT industry for not uniting to self-regulate.

If passed, the government will set up the ICT Practitioners Institute which will license and regulate those who use ICT tools and online spaces. Online media practitioners will also be forced to pay a membership fee to be allowed to operate. The Institute will maintain an updated registry of licensed practitioners.

The Bill will also affect web and mobile developers, online bloggers, system admins, web hosting companies among many other ICT professionals – including those within established companies, who would be required to register.

The pending legislation will impose minimum criteria to acquire certification through the Institute which is a Bachelor's degree or a diploma with three years' experience.

Getao said that other industries, including law, engineering and accounting, have established professional bodies, and it is only ICT and online media that lack representation to ensure standards are defined and met.

She said issues like fake news and lack of professional news reporting by online media has forced the government to intervene.

Kenya has struggled with fake news, hate speech and defamation cases mostly associated with online media. Uganda has implemented a social media tax, while Tanzania has passed a law that forces online bloggers and media outlets to register on an annual basis.

In an article published by the Nation newspaper, Andrew Alston, lead technology strategist at internet service provider Liquid Telecom, said it would be difficult for technology companies to hire experts from outside the country since they will have to register with the Institute.

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