The government through the Ministry of Interior and National Administration has partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to facilitate the implementation of Digital ID cards in Kenya.
According to the State Department for Immigration, the digital identity system through a digital card called Maisha Namba will give Kenyans a secure and efficient way in verifying their identity for various purposes such as accessing government services, opening bank accounts, and traveling.
”The digital identity system will provide Kenyans with a secure and reliable way to verify their identity for a variety of purposes, including accessing government services, opening bank accounts, and traveling.
It will also help to reduce fraud and corruption, and improve efficiency in government services,’ said Immigration Principal Secretary Julius Bitok.
Digital ID Card Deals with UN
Speaking during the signing of the memorandum of understanding, UNDP resident Representative Anthony Ngororano said the partnership will be key to the implementation of the proposed Maisha Namba which will be the official name for the unique personal identifier (UPI)
”The signing of this MoU on Digital Identity with the Ministry of Interior and National Administration, will allow us to engage our technical operational assets as well as our convening capabilities at the service of Kenya,” said Ngororano.
The official launch of both Maisha Namba and Digital ID is planned to take place on October 2, 2023.
Huduma Namba Stalemate
The government spent millions of shillings amounting to almost 10 billion to unsuccessfully roll out Huduma Namba under Uhuru Kenyatta.
However, the Kenya Kwanza government dropped the project saying that Huduma Namba was unprocedural in its roll out and planned to roll out similar digital IDs that will contain additional features.
Before leaving office, Kenyatta launched digital IDs for Kenyans named Huduma Namba, also known as the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS).
However, Huduma Namba exercise was marred with court cases and a distrust from a section of Kenyans who said the state had failed to fully explain the benefits of the IDs.
ICT and Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo, stated that the digital identity card will not be mandatory.
“Let me also clarify that when it comes to pass, we will not force any Kenyan to take a digital identity.
No, the onus will be on you to decide whether you want to get government services through your digital identity based on your biodata or you want to physically visit government offices,” Owalo said.