Parliament in Nairobi, Kenya (pic: Jorge Lascar/Wikimedia)
Parliament in Nairobi, Kenya (pic: Jorge Lascar/Wikimedia)

The Kenya government is set to pass the Computer and Cybercrime Bill into law after its approval by cabinet as east African countries push for regional harmonisation of cyber-crime laws.

The bill is set to be tabled in parliament for debate and then go to a vote within the next few weeks. After that, it is expected to be signed by the president before the end of the year.

The Computer and Cybercrime Bill 2016 was approved by the Kenyan cabinet chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta as part of its ongoing efforts to challenge cyber-crime in the east African community.

It follows the opening of the country's Cyber Coordination Centre in October 2016.

Kenya's ICT cabinet secretary Joe Mucheru said harmonisation is necessary to help curb the increasing incidence of cyber-attacks.

According to Mucheru, the Computer and Cybercrime Bill 2016 will target illegal access, online fraud, money laundering, phishing, cyber-stalking and child abuse, among other things.

"Cyber-criminals can only be guarded against by collective and collaborative efforts by regional governments and the private sector," William Makatiani, CEO at Serianu, explained. In a situation where each government has individual policies and laws regarding the problem, the battle would be lost at the expense of the regional economy, he added.

According to the minister of ICT and national guidance of the Republic of Uganda, Frank Tumwebaze, the ICT sector is a new and evolving sector which needs harmonised policies and laws in order to realise progress as a community.

Harmonising cyber-laws will enable the establishment of east African e-government and e-commerce programmes and are expected to cover data security, network security, cyber-crime, information systems and electronic transactions, Tumwebaze added.

Uganda signed a memorandum of understanding with Malawi in February to promote greater collaboration between the countries in the fight against cyber-crime.

Kenya has seen a rise of internet-enabled crimes ranging from banking fraud, mobile money transfer and personal data hacking, ISACA president Paul Roy Owino said, adding that the region needs a properly regulated industry and thorough protection of digital platforms.

The Bill is also aimed at improving investigations into cyber-crimes by making provisions for procedural law tools and securing electronic evidence for effective national and international cooperation, Mucheru added.