The past year has been interesting from a policy POV with the new legislative and regulatory changes in Kenya’s tech space. This year, my senior Caroline Simba and I take a look at what 2022 has in store.
10. Networks: The uptake of digital connectedness is going to further accelerate. In spite of the local shareholding requirement that continues to be an industry concern, we expect to see continued investment in the building of robust, resilient, and reliable networks and developing diverse products offerings to effectively support Kenyan customers as they leverage the full potential of tech and embrace agile business models.
9. Inclusivity policies: The pandemic brought to the fore the digital inequality in our country and the underpinning social inequality.We foresee industry efforts being focused on policies that:
- provide easily accessible and affordable digital technologies and services especially for disadvantaged groups.
- encourage deployment of technologies that are easier to use and which embrace virtual, software-defined, open technologies.
- harness public-private collaborations with the right incentivization as a critical tool for ensuring digital inclusion.
- support local content and improve digital skills and literacy.
- enhance access and accessibility through meaningful connectivity especially in unserved and underserved areas.
8. Critical Infrastructure Protection: In order to achieve these milestones, it will be imperative to classify telecommunications services as a utility as well as remove county barriers that hinder speedy rollout of infrastructure. One critical area that needs urgent attention is the protection of ICT critical infrastructure that will ensure that the current losses of maintenance and replacing expensive infrastructure are reduced through the formulation of a legal framework for assets.
7. Regulatory environment: With a new government expected to take effect mid-2022, we anticipate changes to the regulatory environment. This will require the establishment of new partnerships in order to manage any changes.
6. Privacy laws and enhanced Personal Data Protection: Delivering a differentiated customer experience through the use of data and decision-enhancing tools will continue to occupy center stage in most boardrooms. With the Data Protection Act now in place we expect heightened customer awareness as well as enforcement of rights by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.
As an industry, there is a need to take the lead in balancing privacy and security with compelling customer engagement not only for the sustainability of businesses but in order to enhance trust in the industry.
Digital Identification and Huduma Namba will also continue to be a key conversation as the government-backed Huduma Namba Bill, 2021 seeks to amend the Tax Procedure Act to make biometric ID the key number for identifying taxpayers.
5. ICT skills and Talent Regulation: Talent acquisition and the “Great Resignation” continue to be of great concern for CEO’s across industries and continents. Kenya’s ICT industry still faces a huge skills gap challenge with interesting industry conversations on the ongoing talent wars such as Kirui’s. There will be a need to look at whether the current curriculum is fostering a competitive and adaptive workforce able to compete in a global digital economy and whether the Presidential Digital Talent Programme (PDTP), the Ajira Digital and the Digital Literacy Programme are sufficient to respond to these demands.
Also interesting is the continuing conversation on the regulation and registration of ICT Practitioners bill which made a comeback last year. The Bill seeks to establish a legal framework for the training, registration, licensing, practice and standards of Information Communication Technology (ICT) professionals in Kenya and it has faced immense industry opposition for a number of reasons including lack of policy underpinning, insufficient engagement and participation and the simple nature of ICT training service and provision.
4. Misinformation and Elections, Cybercrimes: 2022 is an election year for Kenya, and with any electioneering cycle, political misinformation cases are expected. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and the Communications Authority (CA) in March shared news of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for both entities to combat the spread of hate speech. The legal obligation to create the National Computer and Cybercrime Coordination Committee (NC4) under the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, was implemented last year as well as the new Kenya Defence Forces Strategic Communications office focused on content creation and dissemination, informing and shaping the public opinion on KDF activities and effective communication of all operations.
3. Fintech and Digital Lenders Regulation: Following Central Bank of Kenya’s (CBK) new powers to license and oversee digital lenders, the bank published proposed regulations for public consultation on licensing, governance, and credit operations of Digital Credit Providers (DCPs). Under the proposed regulations, a lender will not report loans of less than 1,000 KES to the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) and shall not release information obtained from a credit reference bureau to any third party which has been a key concern and pain point.
2. Digital Rights Protection: According to the Annual State of Internet Freedom Report 2021, Africa has increasingly become digitalized with technology playing a pivotal role in learning, working, and public participation. However, there is growing concern that rising state surveillance is not only undermining African citizens’ digital rights, but also hindering their willingness to meaningfully embrace these transformative technologies. Kenya’s key strategic litigations and advocacy has been around the right to privacy, freedom of expression, and access to information. As more Kenyans become more aware of their human rights we expect to see increased advocacy from the vibrant civil society community this year.
1. Use of Technology in Elections: As with previous years, Kenyans expect the use of ICTs in the elections process. The employment of technology in elections management is meant to address questions of the integrity of the election and efficiency in transmission of the results. The imposition of personal values rather than national values, lack of knowledge of the national electoral technology-based system to be used, absence of transparency and accountability, and a need for public education were emphasized as key concerns during the National 2021 Internet Governance Forum on Elections, Data, and Technology.
Here’s to an impactful 2022!