Zambia dragging feet on ICT regulation law, says computer association

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – A bill to establish, enforce and regulate codes of conduct and professional standards in the ICT sector in Zambia has come under the spotlight following accusation by the Computer Society of Zambia that the government is dragging feet in approving it.

The Computer Society drafted the bill and sent it to the government for approval last year. The government has not taken action yet, raising fears that it is not interested in the bill.

Computer Society of Zambia President Abraham Nyirongo said recently that the bill was drafted and submitted to the Ministry of Communications and Transport for scrutiny and approval because the ICT sector in Zambia is growing fast, and needs to be regulated.

If the government approves the bill, it will lead to the establishment of an IT registration board that will oversee the activities of the IT sector in Zambia. The bill will give powers to the Computer Society of Zambia to provide registration of IT professionals and to handle complaints of misconduct from customers and companies.

The Zambian parliament established the Computer Society of Zambia to regulate the country’s IT sector. However, the society has not been given powers to discipline IT professionals for misconduct. The new bill seeks to give the organization such powers.

“We have followed up with the minister of communications and Transport and we have been told that the bill has not yet been approved. We want to regulate the IT sector,” Nyirongo said.

The Ministry of Communications and Transport has not said why it is taking so long to consider the bill. The Computer Society of Zambia issued complaints almost four years ago that Zambian lawmakers were not well-informed enough to rule on computer-misuse issues.

For any IT bill to be approved in Zambia, it must be presented to the minister of communications and transport, who submits it for scrutiny to the rest of the cabinet of ministers, which approves or rejects the proposal. If the cabinet approves the bill, the minister of communications and transport then signs it into law.

Nyirongo said the bill was drafted because the current telecommunication law and the computer misuse laws are insufficient to maintain professional IT standards in the country.

The computer misuse law that deals with cybercrime was passed in 2004 and has provisions that could see convicted hackers facing sentences of up to 25 years in jail. The law prohibits the sending of unsolicited commercial e-mails but is silent on ethics and professional misconduct.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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