On June 21, 2022, Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta, refused to sign the “contentious” ICT Practitioners Bill 2020, which would require all local ICT practitioners to be licensed and registered by a council.
When the bill was passed, I gave my reasons explaining why I did not expect the President to sign the bill into a law, which Joe Mucheru, Cabinet Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of ICT Innovation and Youth Affairs, has previously stated that the ministry is opposed to.
Kenyatta made the decision during a ceremony in which he signed ten parliamentary bills into law while rejecting three others.
Here are the reasons that pushed President Uhuru Kenyatta to send back the bill;
Definition of ICT
According to the memoranda, President Kenyatta claims that clause 2 of the bill failed to clarify who an ICT practitioner is and that the supplied definition of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) was so broad that it encompassed an entire Kenyan population. According to President Kenyatta, under the current bill and definition of ICT, all Kenyans would be required to register as ICT practitioners with mobile penetration being at 100%.
The president recommended the deletion of the definition.
Establishment and nomination of the members of the council
President Kenyatta noted inconsistencies in two subclauses in Clause 5 of the bill. One subclause provides which associations shall nominate while the other contemplates other associations shall nominate members of the council. President Kenyatta recommended that subclause (1) (f) be deleted.
Functions of the institute
President Kenyatta stated that some of the council’s tasks outlined in the bill fell under the jurisdiction of other professional organisations or institutions. He also pointed out that the bill failed to recognize that the ICT industry was vast and included professionals such as teachers, academia, business, and others, all of which are controlled by different agencies. According to the president, the law failed to foster the formation of a favorable environment for stakeholders.
Renumeration, fees and salaries of the council
Clause 12 of the bill proposed that the council shall determine their own renumeration, fees and salaries. The President pointed out that it was against the constitution which provides that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) shall be tasked with defining renumeration and benefits of public officers.
This was also in clause 13 and 14 where the bill had recommended that the terms and conditions of service including renumeration and benefits meant for the CEO and the council shall be determined by the council.
Licencing of ICT practitioners and ICT firms
The bill required ICT practitioners and ICT firms to get an annual practicing license from the council and prevented them from engaging in ICT practice without one. According to President Kenyatta, the licensing requirement creates an unreasonable barrier to entry into the ICT sector and places an unfair burden on practitioners. He suggested that this be eliminated.
This was also to be followed in clause 5 which provides for the period in which the annual licence shall be valid.