Last night, I ran into a tweet stating that all Kenyan ICT practitioners will required to be licensed under a new ICT Practitioners bill. Here in Nigeria and elsewhere on the continent, we have heard the same song and drum beats. African governments seem obsessed with the idea of having bodies of licensed ICT practitioners. Which is odd, because they are the ones who understand it the least.
It is odd because many government officials are clueless about ICT and the new digital world. And now you want to regulate it. No. By all that is good and holy, no. What governments should be doing is churning out friendlier policies for the ICT industry in their countries. You know, policies that provide power, affordable internet, and make starting up and building easier.
The continent is riddled with a huge lack of these vital factors. African governments have done very little to build, develop and support the army of young men and women that they now seek to license (read: control).
In Nigeria, for example, while these young men and women educated themselves at huge personal costs in order to learn these ICT skills, government spent billions of dollars on placating militants and largely turned a blind eye to the silent revolution in the ICT sector.
The revolution is happening without licensed ICT practitioners
Still in Nigeria, young, vibrant lads and lassies have been building great stuff for years without government’s meddling. Vikanti. Konga. CcHub. PIN. EasyTaxi. Yudala. Slot. Paga. Had government licensing been in place, I dare say that many of these young people building great stuff against all odd would not have qualified. It would only have succeeded in putting one more stumbling block before them. No, sirs. Forget this licensing thing.
Unlicensed Nigerian ICT practitioners have built great websites, developed great apps, developed and rolled out great software. What these smart people need is not government licensing. Where would Nairaland be otherwise? If government licensing was a requirement, MobilityArena.com would not have been built either.
The global revolution happened without licensed ICT practitioners
Facebook. Twitter. Amazon. Google. WhatsApp. All these brands and many more that we use daily were built mostly by unlicensed people. Some of them were people who dropped out of school to chase their dreams. They built great products that even these governments use today.
No Extra Hurdles
African governments won’t build, develop or assist ICT practitioners but are ever seeking to control and dictate to them. Attempting to implement a required licensing before ICT practitioners anywhere on the continent is just putting another stumbling block in the paths of young, visionary builders. These youngsters need to continue to develop themselves and hone their skins without the imposition of government’s limited thinking.
Whether it is in Kenya or Nigeria, what Africa needs is a wider, more open environment in which innovation and technological development can happen. Regulation of practices in the ICT sector works fine enough, but Africa does not need licensed ICT practitioners.