ID applicants now to be issued with digital cards

PS Julius Bitok presents Amnesty International (Kenya) Executive Director Irungu Houghton a booklet during a consultative forum at the Nairobi Serena Hotel. [David Gichuru, Standard]

All applicants for national identity cards will be the first to be issued with Maisha Card.

Immigration and Citizens Services Principal Secretary Julius Bitok yesterday said the piloting phase will take place in all parts of the country as the government rolls out the issuance of digital cards.  

“All Kenyans turning 18 years in whichever part of Kenya will be issued with a Maisha Card on a pilot basis,” said Prof Bitok.

The applicants, those applying for the first time and others seeking to replace their IDs, will get a Unique Personal Identifier (UPI).

Bitok spoke when he met the civil society in a consultative forum at the Nairobi Serena Hotel. 

He affirmed the government’s commitment to address the errors that may arise in the pilot phase before the launch of the programme. 

The National Registration Bureau receives about 10,000 applications for first-time IDs across the country daily and an average of 5,000 requests for duplicate cards.

Data security

The launch of the programme had been slated for October 2, but was later called off to address issues raised on transparency of the process and data security. 

Bitok said the government was keen on preventing the UPI from suffering the same fate as the Huduma Namba. 

“We will therefore use the pilot phase to address potential challenges,” he said, emphasising on conducting more public participation to identify the gaps that may curtail the implementation process. 

In their memorandum, the civil society organisations asked the government to uphold transparency and due process during the implementation of the programme.

“Whereas we are happy with the open-door policy that the government has adopted in engaging stakeholders on digital ID, there are areas around data privacy, inclusion of all voices and unfair vetting that needs to be addressed,” said Amnesty International (Kenya) Executive Director Irungu Houghton. 

They said vetting delays issuance of IDs. “Instead of vetting, the documents submitted by every ID applicant should be verified against existing government information; after all, these are government-issued document,” said Houghton.

Kenya ICT Action Network representative Victor Kapiyo underscored the need for “meaningful” public participation. “For public participation to work, it has to be meaningful and as part of that our contribution is to give feedback to the process being implemented,” he said.