Going green: A paperless economy


Published on 11/01/2009

By James Ratemo

Kenya is now set to achieving a paperless economy following signing into law the contentious Communication (Amendment) Act 2008 by President Kibaki on January 2.

This effectively gives the ICT sector impetus to start reaping fruits from the much-awaited undisputed sections of the new law. For long, Kenya has been a champion in many areas, but not in e-commerce due to lack of relevant legislation.

In economies world over, e-commerce has been known to create jobs, spark innovation and competitiveness. When President Kibaki unveiled the new law he noted it would boost economic development especially with regard to regulation of electronic transactions such as the M-Pesa, which has so far employed more than 12,000 Kenyans in a year.

The Business Processing and Outsourcing (BPO) subsector, a key consumer of the Internet, is also headed for better times as it will now operate in a regulated environment and compete with other advancing economies globally. The sector, noted Kibaki, has so far created more than 5,000 jobs.

Key in the new law is that it facilitates electronic transactions, which hitherto had no basis in Kenyan law. The law has effectively eliminated barriers to e-commerce such as those resulting from uncertainties over writing and signature requirements, and will promote public confidence in the integrity and reliability of electronic records.

Part 83G reads, “Where any law provides that information or other matter shall be in writing then, notwithstanding anything contained in such law, such requirement shall be deemed to have been satisfied if such information or matter is: (a) rendered or made available in an electronic form; and (b) accessible so as to be usable for a subsequent reference.”

The law also recognises documents records or information stored in electronic form and can be used as evidence in a court of law.

Keeping records

With the new law, such scenes of paper will be a thing of the past. [PHOTO: PIUS CHERUIYOT/STANDARD]

This provision relieves us of the burden to keep records in written form, for future reference, a step that also boosts the ‘green’ campaign since rate of paper use will reduce. In the context of contract formation, reads the new law, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, an offer and acceptance of an offer may be expressed by means of electronic messages thus where an electronic message is used in the formation of a contract, the contract shall not be denied validity or enforceability solely on the ground that an electronic message was used for the purpose.

“As between the originator and the addressee of an electronic message, a declaration of intent or other statement shall not be denied legal effect, validity or enforceability solely on the ground that it is in the form of an electronic message,” states the law.

This means all business correspondence can be done online and be legally accepted. There will be no need to move paper documents from one office to another to append signatures since now (digital) signatures, appended electronically, are legal. “Where any law provides that information or any other matter shall be authenticated by affixing a signature, such requirement shall be deemed to have been satisfied if such information is authenticated by means of an advanced electronic signature,” reads the law in part.

Implementation

If well implemented, the law will improve quality of life for disadvantaged communities, strengthen good governance and public participation, create better business environment, improve productivity and efficiency of government departments. The filing of any form; issue or grant of any license, permit, sanction or approval; the receipt or payment of money in any office, authority, body or agency owned or controlled by the Government shall be deemed to have been satisfied if effected by means of electronic forms. The law also allows use of electronic Government Gazette.

Where any law provides that any matter shall be published in the Gazette, outlines the new law, then such requirement shall be deemed to have been satisfied if it is published in the electronic Gazette provided that if the same is published both in the printed and electronic Gazettes, the date of publication shall be deemed to be the date of the Gazette which was first published in any form.

The law also carries stiff penalties for those caught engaging in cyber or e-crime. For instance any person who secures access to any computer system illegally or intercepts data (email) shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding five hundred thousand shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both.

And it will be illegal to disclose a password without authority.

The law (section 84A) also incriminates manufacture, sale and use of a computer system or any other device designed or adapted primarily for the purpose of committing any offence.

In Vision 2030 ICT has been identified as one of the five pillars of prosperity.

|   |    |    Comment (1) |   Add Comment


Today’s magazine

    Crazy Monday
Kogelo attracts ‘wonder-baby’ tourism

Jackie Adams*** gyrated her curvy hips in a sexy motion that resembled a fertility dance. The young woman from New York was among the multi-racial throng that celebrated Barack Obama’s inauguration at Kogelo village in Siaya.