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Who speaks for the ICT professionals in Kenya?

Tuesday May 6 2014

By JOHN WALUBENGO
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The lawyers have the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), the engineers have the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK) the doctors have the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Board, the media professionals have the Media Council of Kenya while the accountants have ICPAK.  But who speaks for the ICT professionals in Kenya?

The above bodies not only regulate their respective professions, but are also often obliged to offer an objective and powerful voice of reason on various issues of national or public concern. In addition, by virtue of having been instituted by an Act of Parliament, these statutory bodies have mandatory seats on various national commissions, boards, councils and task forces.

Their collective wisdom is therefore harnessed, and is part and parcel of the management of our country’s public affairs. Many a time, we have witnessed timely interventions and advisory positions from LSK, ICPAK and others on matters of national importance. What about the positions of ICT professionals?

So far, there has been no Act of Parliament that would empower a particular organisation to regulate ICT professionals in Kenya and speak on their behalf. As the country adopts more and more technology, the absence of a statutory body mandated to provide leadership in the ICT space will become more pronounced.

POWER TO REVOKE  LICENCES

Already, many examples that would have benefited from an objective, non-political analysis from ICT professionals have come and gone. The Laptop procurement saga, the spectacular failure of the IEBC electronic systems, and practically all the Anglo “fleecing” ICT-related projects quickly come to mind.

Would these projects have turned out differently if the individual ICT professionals involved knew that a statutory ICT professional body could revoke their licence to practice if at all they were found culpable of professional misconduct? As our society gets more and more digitised, we can expect more and more of these ICT-related projects in the pipeline.

So it is high time a statutory body to regulate the ICT profession was created. Of course there have been some valid arguments against such an idea. One of them is that unlike doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers or journalists, there is no single examination or unique academic qualification that makes one an ICT professional.

There are multiple routes towards being a qualified ICT professional. These include and are by no means limited to computer scientists, computer technologists, information technologists, software engineers, electrical engineers, computer engineers amongst others.  So the question becomes, who exactly is an ICT professional?

That is a discussion the above professionals must have and resolve very quickly in order to get organized and advocate for a specific Act of Parliament to give them a voice within the national discourse.  Without this ICT voice, the country will continue to shuttle forward into a digital future without the benefit of a non-political, collective and objective opinion from professionals.  

Mr Walubengo is a lecturer at the Multimedia University of Kenya, Faculty of Computing and IT. Twitter: @jwalu