Insiders are questioning the Government’s rush to implement a Sh3 billion single identification project.
The project, coming barely a year after the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) unveiled the new generation driving licence, will see Kenyans shift to a new ID system by January 2019.
The proposed setting up of the National Integrated Identity Management System ((NIIMS) will ensure that all IDs, refugee cards, birth and death certificates as well as driving licence and passports are printed and distributed from one point.
The new system will be a single source of personal information of all Kenyans and registered foreigners.
A joint venture of the ministries of Interior and ICT, the project is already attracting public scrutiny on why it is being fast-tracked and carried out on a restricted tender, which flies in the face of the public finance and procurement laws.
If successfully awarded, the Government will conduct a fresh mass registration of people starting this year using a biometric data listing kit that will collect applicant’s physical details and satellite coordinates of their homes.
Insiders within the Interior ministry have, however, questioned the intent of the project, warning that if not carefully monitored it could turn out to be a cash cow.
“The project is supported by recent amendments to the Registration of Persons Act of 2015 under the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2018 instead of a stand-alone amendment,” noted a senior official privy to the ongoing meetings between Interior and ICT ministries.
“The project is budgeted under the Interior ministry but the ICT ministry is the implementing body,” he said.
The senior official questioned the rush to implement the ID plan at a time President Uhuru Kenyatta has put on hold all new projects until the existing ones are completed.
“We rolled out the e-passport last year. We are in the process of unveiling the third generation identity cards. We have the new driving licenses and now the single IDs. This is loading Kenyans with too much digital stuff,” he said.
The ICT ministry says the registration will be conducted by the Interior ministry and will start at the sub-location level.
“One of the initiatives is registering all the 45 million Kenyans biometrically so that everyone will have a single and unique identity,” said CS Joe Mucheru.
He blamed the current identity registration processes of duplicating roles. “Today you have your ID and passport which is given by the National Registration Bureau, the driving licence by NTSA and others,” he said.
The two ministries jointly chaired a meeting last Friday where Interior CS Fred Matiang’i defended the project, saying it was above board.
The two are yet to disclose the actual cost of the biometric kit tender for the project.
According to the CSs, the project would help improve planning, delivery of social services and security in the country.
Mucheru said his ministry is seeking to introduce Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates in the registration of persons which will enable the tracking of their location via satellite.
The new ID will come with unique personal attributes such as fingerprints, hand and earlobe geometry, retina and iris patterns and voice waves that will be kept in the digital database and physical form.
Adults applying for documents such as IDs will be required to provide additional information about their location, including land reference number, plot or house number.
The fresh registration also seeks to replace names of tribe and race with county of birth or residence
At the same time, the NTSA has announced that from September 1, all applications for motor vehicle transfer and duplicate logbooks will require an e-sticker.