Bid to register ICT practitioners sparks storm

Communications Authority of Kenya Director-General Francis Wangusi.

Efforts by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to have ICT practitioners registered have raised a storm, with operators accusing the authority of undue regulation.

CA last week issued a notice urging the public to seek ICT services only from registered practitioners who have a compliance certificate issued by the regulator.

“The authority is mandated to grant licences to operating entities and persons as well as regulate the provision of services within the sector,” said CA in a statement.

The further said practitioners were required to publicly display compliance certificates at their business premises and also provide copies when participating in tenders.

The move drew sharp reaction from players in the ICT sector who accused the authority of attempting to re-introduce segments of the controversial ICT Practitioners Bill 2016 sponsored by the National Assembly Majority Leader Adan Duale. Through the industry lobby Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet), operators said the move would stifle innovation and could potentially lead to a distortion in the market where the bulk of contracts will go to a small group of people.

“In this notice, there is no bar set on quality of service expectations for ICT service providers and consumers, making this law a simple document any entity can apply and get without improving any service to the consumer,” said James Maina, a KICTANet member. CA had defended the move, saying it was meant to save consumers from being exploited by unscrupulous service providers.

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“This will guarantee consumers of recourse to regulatory intervention in instances where licencees fail to meet their contract obligations,” explained CA Director of Consumer and Public Affairs Christopher Wambua.

“It is also meant to complement ongoing initiatives to weed out unlicensed entities from the ICT market, CA beat a hasty retreat, publishing a new notice seeking to clarify the directive issued last week.

“All the licences issued by the authority come with various conditions that require licencees to comply with annually,” read a notice from CA Director-General Francis Wangusi. 

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