10 March 2016

Kenya: Speech By Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology Mr. Joe Mucheruduring the International Women'sday Celebrations At the Hotel Intercontinental, Nairobion 8th March 2016

press release

- Geraldine Fraser- Moleketi: Vice President and Special Envoy on Gender, Africa Development Bank

- ZebibKavuma: UN County Director

- Gabriel Negatu: Regional Director, African development Bank

- Teresa Savanella: Head, Italian Agency for Development Corporation

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am profoundly delighted to be here this afternoon to be part of this assembly gathered to celebrate the International Women's Day; a day set aside by the United Nations and the rest of the world to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. I am reliably informed that the theme for 2016 International Women's Day is "Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality"with a conversation themed 'Making the Internet a Safer Place for women' being hosted.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The digital world today has elevated access to Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) to a basic human requirement. Indeed, access to ICTs is now one of the key determinants of whether individuals have adequate or scarce access to information. The development of ICT continues to have phenomenal impact in virtually every aspect of the human life. A major emergence is the Cyber based violence meted against women. Cyber-violence against women and girls is emerging as a global problem with serious implications for societies and economies around the world. Statistics available pose risks to the peace and prosperity for all enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, and, in particular, to the goals of inclusive, sustainable development that puts gender equality and the empowerment of women as key to its achievement.

In the past decade, African internet growth has continued to outstrip the World, where it is estimated that close to 50% of the African population will be using mobile internet by 2020. In Kenya, it is estimated that mobile phone penetration stands at over 80%, and internet penetration at 64% (approximately reaching 29.1 million individuals), making Kenya the 21st most connected population in the world. Kenya in turn has one of the most active online populations on the continent with users increasing in number every day. A majority of the Kenyans online use social networking platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube to connect and engage with the rest of the world.

The growing reach of the Internet, the rapid spread of mobile phones and the wide diffusion of social media have each been lauded for their contribution to Africa's development and for presenting new opportunities for job creation and economic growth. However, as much as they are beneficial, they are also presenting new avenues and tools to inflict harm on women and girls. Gender Based Cyber Violence is emerging as a global problem with serious implications for societies and economies around the world. Cyber based violence, which presents itself in form of trolling/stalking, bullying, emotional abuse, invasion of privacy among others could undo some of the good that the new information age potentially presents for the country, if not tackled.

In the recent past, Kenya has witnessed gender based attacks on the cyber space platform, including social media. This form of gender based violence has spared no one; women across the board have been affected, ranging from students, senior government officials, politicians, media and entertainment personalities.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a government, we are aware of the challenges posed by the increased access to the internet and the consequences thereof and have put in place several measures to mitigate. These measures include the adoption of the National ICT Sector Policy of 2006 which is currently under review. The other is a review of the Kenya Information and Communications Act, 1998 (as amended) and its attendant regulations which enhance the role of Communications Authority as the ICT regulator with regard to management of critical internet resources and cybercrime.

Further, Kenya is the only African country with a zero draft on the Computer Crimes and Cybercrimes bill. The bill addresses issues on crimes committed on the internet including Gender Based Cyber Violence. In the spirit of public participation, this bill will be subjected to a stakeholder's consultation in the next two weeks before the process of enactment commences. I call upon all stakeholders and industry to give their input for us to have an all-inclusive product. I am glad to note that the African Development Bank is collaborating with my Ministry in our efforts to manage cybercrime incidents, build capacity and create public awareness on cyber security related issues.

As I conclude I wish to encourage the law enforcement agencies in government to subject their officers to specialized training in the use of technology and social media and international standard guidelines on how to effectively deal with the emerging theme of gender based cyber-crime in Kenya. Training on Digital Forensic may be appropriate in order to acquire adequate analytical and technical capabilities. We may also need to develop a policy at the national level that addresses the threat of cyber violence, paying particular attention to how cyber violence affects and is perpetuated against women. Perhaps these steps will have the most immediate effect in curbing the growth of cybercrime and gender based violence against women in Kenya

Thank you.

Kenya

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