Uhuru Refuses to Sign Controversial ICT Bill Into Law

President Uhuru Kenyatta Signing Government Documents
President Uhuru Kenyatta Signing Government Documents

President Uhuru Kenyatta has refused to sign into law the controversial Information Communication Technology Practitioners Bill, commonly referred to as the ICT Bill.

While assenting to other Bills presented to him at State House, Nairobi on Tuesday, June 21, the President sent the Bill to Parliament with a memoranda asking the House to listen to practitioners and put into consideration their concerns.

The Bill, which was approved by the National Assembly less than a fortnight ago, attracted backlash from Kenyans who termed it ridiculous. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta signs deals at State House
President Uhuru Kenyatta signs deals at State House.

The Bill required that all ICT practitioners, including those with basic skills such as building a website, must get licences to be allowed to operate.

Further, the Bill outlined what Kenyans termed as punitive measures and fines for those found contravening its requirements.

The Bill proposed by Garissa Township Member of Parliament, Aden Duale, proposed that IT practitioners must be holders of a Bachelor's degree from a recognised institution and must register with a national body.

The Bill recommended that any person who attempts to illegally buy a licence would be fined Ksh500,0000 or serve a jail term not exceeding two years or both.

"A person who, not being eligible to be licensed or registered under this Act, uses the title ICT practitioner as appropriate to a person so registered or licensed, which entitles such a person to use that title, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Ksh500,000 or an imprisonment not exceeding two years," read the Bill in part.

In addition, practitioners who allow unlicenced persons to practice under their name, disregard clients' needs, feelings or rights, and abandon projects causing clients to incur unnecessary expenditure will be committing an offence.

The Bill further proposed that  practitioners who fail to honour summons by the recommended council over complaints by clients  will be liable to a fine not exceeding Ksh50,000 or an imprisonment of not more than six months.

On his part, the ICT Cabinet Secretary, Joe Mucheru, made it clear that his Ministry was opposed to the Bill he opined was only passed by MPs due to the current political climate.

"This ICT Bill is a private member's Bill. As a Ministry, we continuously fought against this Bill in its various forms. The political season comes with all manner of surprises including failed assurances by the people responsible. I will do my part to safeguard our thriving sector," Mucheru stated.

Amid the uproar, a section of Kenyans called on CS Mucheru to advice President Kenyatta against signing the Bill, adding that it would undermine players in the sector. 

Other Bills rejected by the President include the Insurance Professionals Registration Bill of 2020; and the Higher Education Loans Bill of 2020.

However, the Head of State signed into law 10 Bills including the 2022 Appropriation Bill, Supplementary Appropriation Bill and Finance Bill, Radiographers Bill; National Electronic Single Window Bill; Traffic (Amendment) Bill; National Government Development Fund (Amendment) Bill; Supreme Court (Amendment) Bill of 2022; County Allocation of Revenue Bill; and the Mental Health Bill.

ICT CS Joe Mucheru and Interior CS Fred Matiang'i during a fund drive event in Kajiado County.
ICT CS Joe Mucheru and Interior CS Fred Matiang'i during a fund drive event in Kajiado County.
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