The Government will save more than Sh20 billion as Huduma Namba seeks to consolidate key services, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has said.
Revealing that 9 million Kenyans had so far registered, the CS also explained that the project was subjected to rigorous public participation.
"Huduma Namba will help the Government save over Sh20 billion because the cost of the new generation IDs is more than Sh8 billion, registering people for NHIF afresh is more than Sh4 billion, National Transport and Safety Authority new generation driving licences is a few billions. Huduma Namba will halt all these projects," said the CS.
He said 21 organisations, including journalists and lawyers, were consulted in order to come up with the form being used for Huduma Namba registration.
Dr Matiang'i, who is today expected to report on the progress of the registration process, also reassured Kenyans that their personal data was safe.
Critics, led by human rights lobbies, want the process suspended, citing lack of public participation and weak data protection laws, among other issues.
Matiang'i said the project was “openly” debated in Parliament and the public constantly engaged.
“This plan for Huduma Namba started two years ago and to say the truth, it’s an issue the President has spoken about since stepping into office in 2013,” said Matiang'i.
“This form that we are using today for Huduma Namba is the 22nd draft. We have changed it 21 times because we have met with 21 organisations, including journalists and lawyers,” added the CS.
“Even if you look at that form, it doesn’t ask for your tribe… And we even had a fierce debate up to Cabinet level where the President said that we are too developed to ask Kenyans their tribes,” said Matiang'i.
The CS was speaking at a Radio Maisha morning show. He later launched Huduma Namba registration for Standard Group PLC employees at the company's Headquarters in Nairobi. He also held a meeting with Standard Group CEO Orlando Lyomu.
The CS warned of the gruesome task ahead for Kenyans without the number, saying it might take even over a week to access Government services.
He, however, acknowledged a recent High Court ruling that Government should not compel citizens to register or tie access to Government services to the number, but urged Kenyans to get the number to avoid being inconvenienced.
“You can’t get arrested if you don’t get registered. The High Court also said that anyone can’t be compelled to register, but I want to insist because it will make access to Government services easier,” he said.
“If you have no Huduma Namba, I can’t assure you that you’ll get a service in two or three days. It can even take you a week because we want to move away from paper,” added Matiang'i.
The CS further defended Government's capability to protect data gathered during the registration.
He said the Data Protection Bill soon headed to Parliament would provide "additional cover" for securing Kenyans' information.
The mass registration is expected to end after 45 days, but Matiang’i said it was “continuous” with the kits to be left at assistant chiefs' offices to register those who might be abroad or will not have been registered.