CS Owalo Inaugurates Team To Review Legal And Policy Reforms In Ministry

The Ministry of Information, Communications, and The Digital Economy has inaugurated a team of technocrats to review the policy, legal, and legislative reforms for various sectors in the ministry.
The Ministry’s Cabinet Secretary, Eliud Owalo, said the working group will be in office for six months and was tasked with aligning various legal and policy instruments that govern the mandate of the ministry and its Semi-Autonomous Government Agencies (SAGAs) with emerging realities in its operations.
He said the team, which comprises 34 members and eight members of the joint secretaries, will examine the existing policy, legislative, institutional, administrative, and operational structures and systems with a view to coming up with comprehensive reforms and recommendations on various thematic areas.
The team’s mandate will also include identifying emerging technologies and legal policy interventions with a view to developing appropriate policy and legislative proposals before they are drafted into relevant bills, policies, and strategy documents.
Other responsibilities include assessing and advising on necessary reforms to enable the ministry to meet its present mandate and expectations in a fast-changing environment.
Owalo said, ‘The need for urgent integrated approaches to legal and policy reforms will ensure synergy and eliminate the multiplication of roles and redundancies as they will be aligned to the Constitution of 2010.’
The CS, who was speaking during the inauguration of the Working Group on Sectoral Reforms at a Nairobi hotel today, stressed that the reforms were necessary since the present legal framework that was enacted over the past 35 and 25 years had outlived its time.
He singled out the Kenya Broadcasting Act of 1988, the Kenya Information and Communication Act of 1988, and the Postal Corporation of 1998, respectively, as examples of some of the laws targeted for review.
‘It is worth noting that there have been piecemeal amendments to some of these laws; however, a lot more remains to be done,’ he stated.
He explained that since the enactment of such laws, the technological landscape has undergone significant changes during the past 35 years, affecting social interactions, the nature of work, education, finance, and business, hence the need for reforms.
The CS nailed the point home, noting that owing to the fact that when the laws were enacted, the ICT functions, the digital economy, the ICT Authority, and the Konza Technopolis Development Authority did not exist as roles in the Ministry, which are important components.
‘These critical SAGAs, as well as the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication and the Kenya Yearbook Editorial Board, still operate on the basis of legal notices, which lack solid legal foundation through substantive Acts of Parliament,’ he added.
At the same time, he observed that promising opportunities had emerged but had also brought with them challenges such as cyber insecurity, cybercrime, and national security, which were not sufficiently addressed in law and policy.
Owalo cited artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency, big data, and other digital assets, among other technologies that were not specifically regulated in law, saying the dynamic changes in technology required the ministry to go beyond piecemeal and ad hoc reform interventions and accommodate the new emerging technologies.
The working group team will also make any other assessments and advise on necessary reforms to enable the ministry to meet its present mandate and expectations in a fast-changing environment.
Speaking at the event, the Broadcasting and Telecommunication Principal Secretary, Prof. Edward Kisiang’ani, said the challenges facing the media and telecommunication sectors require a lot of consultation from stakeholders and the public.
‘Media and Telkom have faced a lot of challenges. We want to help them move to the next level so that they can improve their revenue,’ said Prof. Kisiang’ani, adding that Telkom has to move away from the use of telephones and embrace modern technology.
The PS noted that artificial intelligence and cybersecurity have become huge problems and a need that requires both the private and public sectors to think together, revise the policies and regulations that are in place, and harmonise them.
He said Parliament is concerned about the existing acts in the ministry and has been at the forefront of the sector’s reform.
In his remarks, the ICT Principal Secretary, Eng. John Tanui, said Kenya will use the amended Acts and regulations to lay the right foundations to grow the economy and the development agenda.
He said the digital economy contributes a lot to the Gross Domestic Product, noting that currently, the country contributes less than 7 percent compared to China, which stands at 50 percent.
The PS also urged staff members in the ministry to channel their contributions to the working group, as their views are important in the process.

Source: Kenya News Agency