ICT Regulation and Policy at a Crossroads: A Case Study of the Licensing Process in Kenya
Regulatory reforms in the telecommunications sector in Africa and the rest of the world have been necessitated by the convergence of information and communication technology industries. Given the relative newness of the sector in Africa, information and communication technology implementation problems persist. Research in the sector has tended to attribute implementation problems to technological issues. While not contesting this, this paper contends that information and communication technology implementation in Africa warrants a re-evaluation from the perspective of policy making processes. Drawing on two case studies, this paper critically examines the licensing policy option as documented in the Kenya Communications Act and as implemented by the regulator in Kenya. This analysis is situated within public policy frameworks that highlight the function of domestic institutions and patterns of politics as highly critical filters in policy making, thus influencing actor behaviour and impacting on implementation outcomes in the policy making processes. The findings are that policy making and information and communication technology implementation in Kenya are influenced by institutional/policy arrangements and the contextual forces of ideological, political, social and economic interests. This has significant implications for Kenya, particularly as the study reinforces the call for a critical examination of the policy actors and policy choices that govern information and communication technology regulation and implementation. The study findings also have implications for other African countries, in that the study questions the viability of such policy choices for creating information/knowledge societies in Africa. The analysis in this paper is based on document research and fieldwork, and forms part of a wider study on policy options and implementation processes as enacted through the regulation of the telecommunications sector in Kenya.