, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 22- Did you know that in 1982 there was a circular issued during President Moi’s regime to ban fax machines and computers? Reason being, it would render secretaries jobless.
I can’t help but smile when former ICT Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo tells me this during an interview, because I had no idea.
“And I think that circular is still valid,” he adds.
Considering his vast experience in the ICT sector, I decide to get Dr Ndemo’s opinion on the new kid on the block – Netflix; a US based company which provides online media streaming at a fee.
The recent entry of Netflix in Kenya, has elicited debate on how to regulate its content, with the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) insisting that the content must be rated afresh.
Others like the Communications Authority of Kenya Director General Francis Wangusi feel that this is something new online and regulation may not be possible unless otherwise.
But Ndemo is categorical: Netflix is just a new innovation and it is here to stay. “It is a waste of time to imagine regulating the Internet,” he mentioned earlier in a Facebook post.
“They can’t begin to block the direction of innovation,” he says, “For example people are starting to make calls through Viber, free of charge, and the mobile telecoms are already saying, ‘see, they are eating into our revenues’. But if you recall the mobile telephony was an innovation in itself.”
“Who knows that with the new revenue models, customers may never need to pay for voice and its actually looking that way. That voice would be free in the next few years.”
They say technology is both negative and positive and only depends on how you use it. Just like mobile phones others are making money out of it while it is the same gadget being used by criminals.
And this is Kenya Film Classification Board argument. That as much as it’s the new entry, there is the need to regulate arguing that a lot of movies contain adult content yet rated underage.
But according to Ndemo, the issue of morality may not hold water adding that harmful content still is and will always be about the choice of the audience.
“I think it is nonsense when you talk about something like nudity. Anything that runs over Internet, when you get it, it is your choice. You have your own responsibility to also protect your children from seeing bad content,” he says.
“If you grow up with very high values, it is very difficult to be distracted. Morality does not mean you block information. For example, the fear that we cannot talk about sex is what is breeding the many kids who are getting children. In countries where sex is discussed early, children grow exposed because they understand sex. When you talk of myself, up to high school, I never knew that a child is born from a woman. We were usually told that God brought the children down on earth. But with these changes and exposure, we must be open to our children so that they know everything and consequences instead of hiding. This commands right choices.”
He challenges the youth to use social media and come up with innovative content projects because with the current trend, the sky is the limit.