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Uhuru signs 10 bills into law, rejects controversial ICT Bill

Among the bills which President Kenyatta rejected is the controversial ICT Practitioners Bill.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday signed into law 10 parliamentary bills

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday signed into law 10 parliamentary bills among them the 2022 Appropriation Bill, Supplementary Appropriation Bill and Finance Bill.

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Others were the 2021 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 Mental Health Bill.

The second Supplementary Appropriation Bill of 2022 will unlock Sh88.8 billion funding for expenditure on public services among them the fuel subsidy fund which has been allocated Sh49.2 billion.

The money will also be used in mitigation interventions such as provision of relief food, the national fertilizer subsidy programme, settlement of ongoing road construction bills which has been allocated Sh26.7 billion and social protection and safety net measures assigned Kshs 1.5 billion.

The Teachers Service Commission has been allocated Sh2.1 billion for salaries and related recurrent expenses while Sh1.37 billion has been earmarked for ongoing improvement of primary school infrastructure.

At the same time, President Kenyatta declined three parliamentary bills among them the Information Communication Technology Practitioners Bill, Insurance Professionals Registration Bill of 2020, and Higher Education Loans Bill of 2020.

The head of state all sent back to the controversial bills to Parliament with memoranda.

The ICT Bill which was first introduces in the house during President Kenyatta's first term was withdrawn in 2016, rejected in 2018 before it was tabled again in 2020.

The National Assembly recently passed the bill, triggering a petition on Change.org, which has so far received over 12,000 signatures.

The Ministry of ICT distanced itself from the proposals, with CS Joe Mucheru saying it was not sponsored by the government but a Member of Parliament.

ICT professional and stakeholders have been fighting the bill, with many expressing their reservations about its contents.

The proposed law requires ICT practitioners to be licenced and registered by a council.

Furthermore, practitioners must have a university education in ICT and pay an annual fee to a body.

However, stakeholders argued that million of ICT practitioners in Kenya are self taught because of the availabilty of learning resources.

The law will derail the milestones that have been made in the ICT sector. This might even lead to loss of jobs, mind you some of the most competent ICT practitioners in the field right now did not pursue any course, or have exemplary skills that they were not even taught in school. There are good ICT professionals who are self-taught,” said Internet Governance lawyer Mercy Mutemi.

Azimio la Umoja presidential candidate Raila Odinga also criticised the proposals during a rally on Sunday, where he said the bill would erode Kenya's gains in the ICT sector.

"I find the move to regulate ICT Practitioners impractical and counter-productive. It negates the goals and visions of the National ICT Policy and Digital Strategies," he stated.

Over the years, Kenya has emerged as a leader in ICT in Africa and across the world attracting the attention of global players.

In the last year alone, tech giants like Google and Microsoft opened development centres in Nairobi to help innovators access resources and opportunity to change the world in ICT.

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