ICT Authority revives push to accredit all service providers

Kenya Technical Teachers College (KTTC) computer research center at the college's library on September 9, 2020. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT) Authority has revived a proposal to accredit all service providers in the sector, setting the stage for renewed clashes with industry players.

In the ICT Authority Bill 2024, the regulator is seeking to compel all service providers in the industry to register even as it also seeks additional powers to oversee the ICT sector, in addition to providing the services for State offices.

This proposal has been rejected multiple times before, the latest being in 2022, when the proposal sailed through the national assembly but former president Uhuru Kenyatta declined to assent to it following concerns raised by the industry that it would limit innovation by locking out some IT professionals as well as trainees and youth hoping to join the sector.

The Bill sets requirements such as registration fees before one is registered to practice.

“A person who intends to provide ICT services to any entity shall apply to the Authority for accreditation in a prescribed manner and upon payment of the required fee,” says the bill that has this week been subjected to public participation before being tabled in parliament.

If the Bill sails through lawmakers and gets presidential assent this time, all ICT practitioners and service providers will be required to have a minimum qualification requirement and some experience before applying for accreditation by the authority.

The accreditation will be renewed annually at a fee not yet determined, and the authority will have the power to revoke a practitioner’s licence at any time if they are deemed to have acted against “public interest” or contravened the terms of their accreditation.

Anyone who will provide ICT services without the prerequisite accreditation will be penalised by imprisonment for up to five years, or fined at most Sh5 million, the bill proposes.

While the bill does not clearly define who an ICT service provider is, it could affect professionals such as computer scientists, web and app developers, software and hardware engineers, internet service providers, and IT support staff across both private and public sectors.

Stakeholders in the industry have criticised the bill as being detrimental to the industry, saying it is likely to stifle innovation and should be shot down multiple times as it happened previously.

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