Specific legal issues affecting the implementation of computer-based information systems in the developing countries. A critical review of literature

Essay, 2015

9 Pages


Table of Contents

1.0 Abstract


3.1 Data Protection and Privacy laws
3.2 Procurement legal framework
3.3 Lack of comprehensive anti-corruption legal framework/legislation
3.4 ICT law (e-law) as a field is not yet mature
3.5 Lack of well-trained lawyers in the field ICT
3.6 Tax Laws
3.7 Lack of implementation and enforcement of existing laws
3.8 Lack of National Information & Communications Technology (ICT) Policies
3.9 Immigration laws
3.10 Intellectual property laws
3.11 Licensing and contract laws

4. 0 Conclusion and the way forward


1.0 Abstract

Implementation of computer-based information systems (CBIS) has become increasingly important due to the growing reliance on new technologies by organisations in their operations and service delivery. There has also been realisation by individuals and businesses of the inevitability of delivering value-added services without computerized systems. Despite this awareness and the apparent growing readiness to deploy computer-based systems, there still exists a myriad of perennial challenges inhibiting the implementation of these systems. Using insights from previous studies, the paper sums up the legal issues that have been acknowledged by various scholars as major obstacles to the implementation of CBIS in developing countries.

Keywords and phrases: computer-based information systems, computers, developing countries,

Method.A review of English language literature published after 1998 to the present day relating to the legal challenges encountered in the implementation of computer- based information systems in developing countries


According to Jessup and Valacich (2003), computer based information systems are “a combination of hardware, software, and telecommunications networks that people build and use to collect, create, and distribute useful data, typically in organizational settings” (p.10). These systems are used by individuals and organisations for making it easier to generate, analyze and use information.

Jessup and Valacich (2003) argue that a computer based information system can be looked as comprising the following important components/elements:

- Hardware: Hardware can be a single PC, a single main frame or networks of computers. It also includes physical device to control the process of input and output like keyboard, mouse and modem.

- Software: Application program such as MS Office, Macromedia Dreamweaver, Koha library software and etc.

- People: Those who are involved with the system or using the system.

- Data: Consists of facts, text, graphic, figure that can be recorded and that have specific meaning

- Procedures: Instructions and rules to design and use information system. Strategies, policies, methods, and rules for using the CBIS

Computer based information systems have found application in almost all aspects of our life. Some of the important ones are:

- Science and Engineering
- Business and Commerce
- Education
- Governance
- Health and Medicine
- Entertainment
- Agriculture
- Transport and communication
- Banking and finance

Developing countries have been active in implementing computer based information systems in all these sectors to facilitate service delivery, improve quality of services and cut on costs in the delivery of services. These efforts have not been without challenges. In this paper, I will only focus on the legal challenges to the implementation of computer based systems which has seemingly been overlooked in previous studies.


3.1 Data Protection and Privacy laws

Computer based information systems are used in such critical areas as electronic funds transfer, internet banking and mobile banking. For these services to be offered effectively, customers’ data must be collected in databases and transmitted over long distances electronically. This data must be protected from unauthorised access both during transmission and storage. It is also the responsibility of the party collecting and transmitting this data to ensure that the privacy of the customer in not infringed and that the customers’ data is always secure.

The assurance of privacy and integrity is not assured in many developing countries since many developing countries do not have comprehensive data protection and privacy legislation. Therefore, security and privacy concerns by customers sometimes deter them from using computer systems such as ones used to conduct online transactions like buying of goods and services. This is a serious challenge in the implementation of computer systems for these purposes.

Buck (1997) as quoted by Mthembu (2010) is of the same view when he argues that, when making payments, customers want a payment mechanism which is safe and which can enable them to make and receive payments and be sure that no one can divert such payments or impersonate them in order to steal their funds. In the absence of comprehensive data protection and privacy laws that assures them of enough security of their data, their privacy and security of their funds, customers may avoid these systems. This is a serious setback to the development of computer-based systems in the sectors of ebanking, ecommerce and mobile commerce etc.

3.2 Procurement legal framework

Corruption remains a serious obstacle to effective government in Kenya. Public procurement is a major area of corruption: nearly 80% of all cases before the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission have a procurement element. Corruption in procurement increases the cost of doing business, which in turn adds to the cost of public tenders and leads to poor standards of project work as contractors seek to recover the cost of their bribes.

3.3 Lack of comprehensive anti-corruption legal framework/legislation

Robinson (1998) while making reference to developing countries, states that corruption has become an issue of major political and economic significance in recent years. Corruption is rife in government procurement. Tendering of ICT services and equipment has been a corruption riddled area. For example, Newspapers in Kenya have in many cases pointed out that tenders for ICT services and equipment were being awarded on the basis of personal relations between officials in government and the businesses, instead of on the basis of competence and capability. This results in private sector ICT firms which are not the best in the sector being awarded the tenders. This in turn impacts on the quality of the computer based systems implemented.

3.4 ICT law (e-law) as a field is not yet mature

Like other fields such as property, education, commerce and business, ICT has been identified as a crucial tool for making economies more competitive. Therefore, necessary legislation should be put in place to regulate and accelerate the development of ICT as a major contributor to the economy. May foreign investors shy away from establishing their businesses in developing countries because they feel their interests may not be adequately protected under the current e-law frameworks. For example, existing legislation in many developing countries is not adequate and appropriate for prosecuting software counterfeiting/piracy crimes. This has a serious effect on those developing the software since “pirators” can go unpunished.

3.5 Lack of well-trained lawyers in the field ICT

Lack of lawyers trained in ICT law(E-lawyers)is also a big challenge of implementing computer based information systems in developing countries. For ICT companies planning to set businesses in developing countries, E-lawyers can facilitate this process by advising on matters of compliance with government regulations. This can fasten the process of setting businesses in these countries.

3.6 Tax Laws

Although taxes are essential for sustaining the economy of a country, they can also be a hindrance to the development of some sectors in the economy. In the ICT sector for example, taxes can make products and services unaffordable. Developing countries have tax regimes which make ICT equipment and softwares expensive. For example, re-introduction of VAT on ICT equipment in Kenya has impacted negatively on the growth of the ICT sector and on Kenya’s position as the leading digital economy in Sub-Saharan Africa (Omwansa, 2014). This is mainly because the equipment and software prices have skyrocketed and become out of reach to many Kenyans. This is a serious obstacle to adoption of computer based information systems in Kenya especially by small and medium enterprises whose financial resources are limited.


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Specific legal issues affecting the implementation of computer-based information systems in the developing countries. A critical review of literature
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CBIS, computer, computer-based information systems, computerized systems
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Daniel Kinyanjui (Author), 2015, Specific legal issues affecting the implementation of computer-based information systems in the developing countries. A critical review of literature, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/342816


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