Acclaimed blogger Cyprian Nyakundi has vowed to challenge the contentious ICT Practitioners Bill 2020, which was recently passed by parliament and now awaits Presidential Assent before it is officially turned into law.
Delivering the announcement via his WhatsApp status on Friday, 10, June, the outspoken digital rights activist declared he will soon move to court to file a constitutional petition against the retrogressive legislation which seeks to establish an ICT Practitioners Institute for training, registration, licensing, practice and setting standards for ICT professionals in Kenya.
“That ICT law is useless. I’ll be heading to court to file a constitutional petition,” he wrote.
Because of low barriers to entry, the IT industry has always attracted any person with an interest in that field.
Many renowned IT specialists did not study IT at University.
For instance, the newly appointed Meta CISO Guy Rosen dropped out of Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI) in the first year.
In simple terms, 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.
The bill also proposes to introduce an annual licensing fee for the ICT practitioners.
This could kill the dreams of young people who want to join the profession but lack money to pay for the annual licenses.
Kenya and Africa by large still have a vast gap in IT talent.
In a country where IT talent is in steady supply, the bill should have come up with solutions on ways to upskilling, reskilling and train IT talent.
It should have identified barriers limiting the effectiveness of the market and then propose interventions.
It should have proposed solutions that seek to promote Kenya’s innovation ecosystem and not kill it.
This is not the first time that the ICT Practitioners Bill has appeared in Kenya.
It was first introduced in 2016, but the ICT community heavily criticised it, forcing Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru to dismiss it because it was duplicating regulations that were already in place.
In 2018, the ICT Practitioners Bill re-appeared, but it did not see another light of the day.
They then reintroduced it in Parliament in November 2020 with very minimal changes from the previous ones and this time it passed through the first, second and finally the third stage of reading.
Cyprian Nyakundi is no stranger to the corridors of justice.
Most recently in 2021, the maverick personality carried the day in court in a landmark case against section 66 of the penal code after the High court of Kenya ruled it unconstitutional.
Justice Weldon Korir ruled that the provision is too retrogressive to fit in a democratic country saying that it is difficult for one to express himself or herself without violating the said provision.
“It is difficult for one to express himself or herself without violating the said provision,” he noted.
The ruling is a major win for bloggers, journalists, social media users and Kenyans in general because they are often intimidated by arrests while practising their freedom of expression.
- I am a young Kenyan interested in new media and dissemination of news and information as it unfolds.