East African legislators collect views on Electronic transactions bill

East Afica Community (EAC) regional legislators are currently touring their Partner States to collect stakeholders’ views and submissions on the envisaged East African Community Electronic Transactions Bill 2014.

Chair of the Committee on Communication, Trade and Investment (CTI), Hon. Mukasa Mbidde
Chair of the Committee on Communication, Trade and Investment (CTI), Hon. Mukasa Mbidde

Key stakeholders to be visited include ministries responsible for ICT, finance as well as trade, commerce and tourism, key government functionaries including the offices of the Attorneys General and the Law Reform Commissions as well as the Law Societies and enforcement agencies.

The visit which involves the Assembly’s Committee on Communication, Trade and Investment (CTI), takes place from March 1-5, 2015. The Committee chaired by Hon Mukasa Mbidde, has split itself into two groups in order to be more effective and Members shall undertake simultaneous tour of the capitals. The first group shall visit Dar es Salaam, Nairobi and Kampala while the second group will navigate Bujumbura, Kigali and Kampala.

The legislators are also expected to touch base with the representatives of the Private Sector including the East African Business Council and the respective Private Sector Federations in the Partner States.

Both groups will then converge in Kampala, Uganda, on March 4, 2015, to consider the views and to synthesise the input into a report.

The EAC Electronic Transactions Bill, 2014 was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill at the recent sitting in Arusha and its primary mover is Hon Dr. James Ndahiro. The Bill aims at making provision for the use, security, facilitation and regulation of electronic communications and transactions; to encourage the use or e-Government service and to provide for related matters.

The Bill is premised on Article 103 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC in which Partner States recognizing the fundamental importance of science and technology in economic development, undertook to promote co-operation in the development of science and technology in the Community. This can be achieved through the promotion, development and application of Information technology in the EAC.

The Bill anticipates that Partner States need to create a proper environment for all possible users and beneficiaries of ICT to educate them on the operations involving electronic transactions and in doing so, make necessary amends to ensure security of users of ICT. It further states that the Community needs to make effective use of ICTs.

Analysts contend that the EAC needs to maximally exploit the great resource of ICTs by ensuring the business and institutions have modern access to the modern technologies. At the same time, it is envisaged that ICTs can play a key role in ensuring the strengthening of integration.

In May last year, the East African Payments System (EAPS) was officially launched in Nairobi by the Central Bank Governors from the EAC Partner States. EAPS which is an initiative of the Central Banks and the EAC Secretariat, integrates the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) systems in the Partner States.

It utilises the internationally recognised SWIFT Messaging network for safe and secure delivery of payment and settlement messages and through this mode, real time transfer of funds by commercial banks across the Partner States can be realised at the touch of a button.

At EALA, public hearings are a key avenue and channel of gathering views and comments on the Private Members’ Bills before debate in the House. The views collected are synthesised and form part of the report of the relevant Committee on a Bill. Such report is also presented for debate and approval in the Assembly.