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Gov’t committed to foster digitization

The government has reaffirmed its commitment to formulate, implement laws and policies that support digitization, and create an enabling environment for the uptake of ICTs in the country and among the youth for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Maureen Mbaka said that these policies include the National ICT Policy, the Kenya’s Digital Economy Blueprint for Africa which was launched at the Smart Africa Summit in Rwanda in 2019 and the Draft Digital Economy Strategy for Kenya which is a five-year implementational roadmap to operationalise the Digital Economy Blueprint.

Speaking virtually on Monday during the National Council of NGOs consultative meeting on governance and sustainable development, Ms Mbaka said that NGOs play a critical role in reaching out to the vulnerable in society and challenged them to ensure that these people are not marginalised as the world migrates to the digital era.

She said that the Covid-19 pandemic is generating an unprecedented crisis that threatens progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The National Council of NGOs Chairperson Samuel Githinji speaking during a National consultative meeting on governance and sustainable development. Photo by Joseph Ng’ang’a

The CAS explained that according to the World Bank report titled ICT Competitiveness in Africa, Kenya is one of the leading countries in ICT development in Africa alongside Morocco and Nigeria.

“Kenya is, therefore, a leader in digitalization in both private and public sectors with a growth of roughly 25 per cent in internet penetration in the periods 2001 to 2016. Further to this, Kenya’s digital economy has been advancing with the growth of ICT as a development pillar in the country’s comprehensive development strategy or the Vision 2030,” she explained.

She said that the Digital Economy blueprint recognises five fundamental pillars as catalysts for a robust Digital Economy.  These are: Digital Government; Digital Business; Infrastructure; Innovation Driven Entrepreneurship and Digital Skills and Values.

“The Digital Economy Blueprint and the Digital Economy Strategy both recognise the cross-cutting issues necessary to support the five pillars, one of them being the existence of a Data Protection framework.  For these reasons, the ICT Cabinet Secretary Mr. Joe Mucheru enacted the Data Protection Act in November 2019,” she explained.

She added that to enable the implementation of the Data Protection Act and to guide on compliance, a taskforce was gazzetted in January 2021, to develop Data Protection Regulations.

“This taskforce has since developed three sets of regulations that will see the practical implementation of the Data Protection Act. The first are the General Regulations that set out the procedure that will be adopted by the Office of the Data Commissioner in registering Data Controllers and Data Processors as per the Data Protection Act,” disclosed Ms Mbaka.

The CAS said that with advanced technological developments comes the need for privacy, which is a fundamental human right recognised in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

“The Kenyan Constitution heralds the specific right to the protection of personal data where a person has the right to not have their information relating to their family or private affairs unnecessarily acquired or revealed and the privacy of their communications infringed,” she explained.

Ms Mbaka said that the cyber protection laws in Kenya are enshrined in the constitution and include: Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, No. 5 of 2018 which provides for offences relating to computer systems such an unauthorised access or interference, cyber espionage, cyber harassment, cybersquatting, phishing and cyber terrorism. It contains provisions to enable timely and effective detection, prohibition, prevention, response, investigation and prosecution of computer and cybercrimes; and facilitate international co-operation in dealing with computer and cybercrime matters.

She added that the Kenya Information and Communications-Consumer Protection-Regulations, 2010 which was passed to protect consumers of ICT services and products set out the rights and obligations of consumers as well as the safeguards that licensed telecommunication service providers should put in place to protect consumer rights. The Regulations require service providers to take appropriate technical and organisational measures to safeguard the security of its services.

“Due to the increased cyber threats against banks, the Central Bank of Kenya issued Guidelines to create a safer and more secure cyberspace and establish a coordinated approach to the prevention and combating of cybercrime. The Guidelines set out the minimum standards that Payment Service Providers should adopt to develop effective cyber-security governance and risk management frameworks,” she said.

The National Council of NGOs Chairperson Samuel Githinji said that in the past the country has experienced tension during the elections period insisting that embracing technology in the electioneering process will improve credibility in the process and thus lead to a free and fair general election.

Githinji said that they are encouraged by the government’s commitment to the legislative and governance reforms which will pave the path for new opportunities and enhance transparency and openness in its operations.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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