The government of Kenya has been pursuing the amendment of business and information bills that would simplify the process of signing documents. The move was sold as a means to introduce digital signatures to aid government processes, and as late as Dec 2019, the exercise was being pursued in Parliament.
Today, President Kenyatta has assented the bill that effectively amends the Kenya Information and Communication Act to offer a means of authenticating and signing documents. The process was proposed in the Business Law (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and was approved in the House in November 2019.
What the amendment means
Businesses and entrepreneurs can now register their organizations online based on the new requirements of the Business Registration and Registration of Documents Acts.
The bill also means that the government will establish digital registries in Nairobi and Mombasa.
The registrar has the option to offer searchable digital databases of registered businesses for the public.
Parties that conduct business can also sign contracts electronically.
Operations such as land purchases will be made easier because stamp processing can now be done through electronic means.
Furthermore, the transfer of properties and securities can now be conducted digitally.
These functions, among many others, are now legally recognizable.
“Where any law provides that information or any other matter shall be authenticated by affixing a signature or that any document shall be signed or bear the signature of any person, then, notwithstanding anything contained in that law, such requirement shall be deemed to have been satisfied if such information is authenticated by means of an advanced electronic signature affixed in such manner as may be prescribed by the Minister,” reads part of the new law.
By the way, title deeds and legal wills will still require physical signatures for them to be valid in case of a dispute.