The Kenyan ICT community have petitioned president Uhuru Kenyatta to reject the ICT bill which requires ICT practitioners to be registered under a professional body.
The bill which was quietly passed on 8th June 2022, one day before the end of the 12th parliament and now awaits presidential assent. Once signed into law anyone who employs technologies to collect, process, store or transfer information for a fee will have to be licensed by a council.
Critics of the bill say that the requirements proposed by the Bill will be a hurdle to many young people wishing to join the profession but do not meet the threshold set by the body. This they say will interfere with highly motivated and creative youths who may not meet the ceilings required for registration. They take issue with Kenyan MPs who recently passed a bill to do away with degree as part of the qualification to be an MP but passed the ICT Bill for tech guys to have one and be a member of a professional body.
“A software developer does not necessarily need a degree. She or he needs a laptop and wifi only and they mostly self-train globally. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of university to concentrate on Microsoft, Apple and Facebook. Not everyone needs a degree” says University don John Njenga Karugia
The bill was initially introduced by the then majority leader Aden Duale in 2016 and supported by nominated ANC legislator Godfrey Osotsi as the ICT Practitioners Bill and sought to register and license ICT practitioners by a council. Those who sought registration with the council must have completed a university education, posses 3 years of experience and pay an annual feel. It also defined jail terms for those who didn’t comply.
It was however rejected on the basis of repetitiveness but resurfaced in 2018 when it was rejected again. In November 2020, the bill was then reintroduced in the house with few changes from before and this time it went through the first, second and third reading before it was passed. The 2020 ICT bill removed degree requirements, jail terms, and fines for people who fail to register. The petition has been signed by almost 5,700 Kenyans and is counting.See also: State to train 20 million Kenyans on ICT skills