Lobby group opposes plan to replace Huduma Namba

Dennis Wendo(L) with Prof. Fred Ogola(R) leader of operation Linda Ugatuzi speaking civil society meeting on trade and climate change. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

A lobby group now says the proposed Unique Personal Identifier (UPI) is a scheme to siphon public funds under the guise of give newborns in Kenya a distinct lifetime registration number.

The government is of launching the UPI with roll exercise expected by September 16, 2023. The UPI that shall be uploaded in the eCitizen portal is aimed at giving all new born babies a unique personal number that will be used in schools and colleges.

According to the government, the special number will also be used as an identification card, PIN number, National Health Insurance Fund, and Kenya Revenue Authority as well as identify the individuals in life and in death.

However, Operation Linda Ugatuzi members think this is another grand plot to plunder public money.

Addressing the media yesterday, the group's leader Prof Fred Ogola challenged the government to come out clearly and explain how the project differs from Huduma Namba which was launched under former President Uhuru Kenyatta's regime.

"This new initiative bears an uncanny resemblance to the Huduma Namba project that was undertaken by former President Uhuru Kenyatta's government. The only noticeable difference between the original Huduma Namba and the new project is the name," stated Prof Ogola.

According to Ogola, it would have made sense if the Kenya Kwanza administration had leveraged the already existing structures of the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) than launching another project that will gobble millions of shillings.

Operation Linda Ugatuzi's leader accused the government of spreading misinformation regarding the Huduma Namba in a bid to cast the project in a negative light.

Prof Ogola defended Huduma Namba claiming it meant international standards since it has features such as data encryption on the chip and protection via a public key infrastructure and fingerprint details.

"The card body is also made of polycarbonate which has over 10 years' duration. The security features are in three levels including the optical security features that need a device to identify and also bears forensic security features such as special security ink," he added.