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Players vouch for E Commerce Bill

NAIROBI, June 19 – Telecommunication industry players are lobbying for the enactment of the Electronic Commerce Bill, which creates a legal framework to enable Kenyans to transact online.

Kenya ICT Federation Vice Chairman Kevit Desai told Capital Business News Thursday that upon its ratification, the e-commerce bill would provide the legislation to give the confidence and security needed for any kind of electronic transaction in the country.

He said the law, which needs to be in place in the next four or five months, has the potential to increase the country’s GDP by one percent every year, as it would impact on all sectors of the economy.

“With such a framework in place, we could also get opportunities in other sectors such as the $230 billion software development, and sell locally developed software to the outside world,” Desai noted.

Desai remarked that this was a matter that should be handled with utmost urgency as the country was losing colossal amounts of money in the tourism and export businesses.

Only five percent of all transactions in Kenya are carried out electronically compared to between 85 to 90 percent in developed countries.

Other players however advocated for the simultaneous implementation of the three or so related bills such as the Evidence Act, the Freedom of Information Bill and the ICT Bill to facilitate the legal environment for the execution of the law.

AccessKenya Managing Director Jonathan Somen said having this legislation would be the fastest way to spur the growth of content, which would in turn grow the ICT sector.

“We would probably see about 150 to 200 new businesses coming up in a few months, if this piece of legislation was in place,” he said.

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The MD reckoned that the lack of technology is not the hindrance in online payment but the lack of a requisite framework, ‘to ensure that the building blocks are in place’ and see e-commerce take off.

“If the right legislation was in place, we would have an online payment system tomorrow,” he observed.

Somen also proposed the setting up of a new subsidiary court that would only hear and determine electronic crimes in the quickest time possible.

“When people realise that the courts work fast in that area, you will see an increase in the number of people doing online transactions,” he explained.

The policy was initially incorporated in the Kenya Communication Amendment Act, which was withdrawn in mid-2007 largely due to its failure to address the cross media ownership and cyber crime issue.

Industry players have been collating all the issues they want incorporated into the bill before presenting it to the Information Ministry.

It was however removed and the draft is expected to be presented to Parliament soon.

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