The National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMIS) kicked off in Mwala, Machakos County.
President Uhuru Kenyatta officially rolled out the Sh6 billion project that seeks to digitise Kenyan’s identities through fingerprints and photographs.
Any Kenyan aged 6 years and above will get a Huduma Namba- the number generated at the end of the process.
The Huduma Namba will revolutionise data storage and usage by the government and other parties.
For example, it will help in resource mapping and resource allocation in such activities as healthcare, disbursement of welfare benefits including cash tokens for the elderly and student bursaries.
It will also help fight fraud like double registration of persons and theft of identity, especially in this age of terrorism that transcends borders.
Huduma Namba makes it possible to get estimates of population numbers and also enables government to monitor the populations’ income patterns and job placement- and therefore makes it easy for tax collectors to get what is due to them.
Besides, it will keep tabs on migration and record deaths whenever they are reported. In a nutshell, Huduma Namba will provide factual data on individuals; detailing who is doing what and where as long as they are within the Kenyan borders.
It is hoped that the long-running feuds about population sizes of certain groups and therefore election outcomes, will be resolved through NIIMS.
Likewise, it should minimize conflicts about resource allocation which, of late, have led some governors to blame the Commissioner for Revenue Allocation for unfair distribution of finances to counties.
In particular, leaders from the arid and semi-arid areas have been very vocal on this matter, believing they have always been getting a raw deal.
Of course, challenges will be encountered.
Regrettably, the government has not publicized the exercise in spite of the costs involved.
Of what use is it to invest billions of shillings yet not get the message heard loud enough?
Nonetheless, we welcome the exercise, especially following assurance by President Kenyatta that digitising the National Police Service records has saved the country Sh1 billion after ghost workers were identified.
Kenyans would do well to get out and register as soon as possible and not wait, characteristically, for the last minute rush.
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