Kenyans to register for digital IDs by February next year

Kenya Citizens and Foreign Nationals Management Services Director General Mwende Gatabaki at her office in a recent interview. [PHOTO: PIUS CHERUIYOT/STANDARD]

Nairobi; Kenya: The Government is set to kick off the multi-billion-shilling digital registration of persons in the next four months. This is in an attempt to arrest the deteriorating security situation and the proliferation of illegal immigrants in East Africa’s largest economy.

“Kenya is becoming a hub of human trafficking. As long as you are able to pay for identity cards and work permits you get them,” said Mwende Gatabaki, acting director general of the Kenya Citizens and Foreign Nationals Management Service, a State corporation formed under the previous Ministry of Immigration and Registration of persons.

Ms Gatabaki pointed out that over 40 per cent of births and 50 per cent of deaths are not captured, adding that the number of illegal birth certificates, IDs and passports remains unknown.

“We don’t know where people live and who enters our country and when,” she said. Gatabaki was speaking during a consultative forum on the proposed National Digital Registry Services Financial Services Sector in Nairobi, yesterday.

She said the national digital registration exercise, which is set to be officially launched in February 2015, would be financed through a public private partnership (PPP) model.

She said the decision to register citizens aged 12 and older and issue biometric identification cards connected to a national database aims to strengthen national security and reduce crime.

Gatabaki said registration would be done through means such as mobile phones in order to access as many people as possible in the remote areas.

capture details

The ambitious plan, estimated to cost Sh9 billion was made public by Deputy President William Ruto during his meeting with the commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on April 14. It is meant to spot and weed out those holding bogus identification documents. Of this amount the Government has committed Sh1 billion, Ms Gatabaki.

The exercise would combine all existing registers of persons into a single national register with accurate and relevant information. The register will capture details of people, land, assets and establishments.

But there are concerns that the project could face strong resistance from the civil society and a cross-section of parliamentarians, some of who feel the project is being hurried and instead want it brought before the august House for scrutiny.

Currently there are no links in birth registration, Personal Identification Number (PIN), National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) registers and voter registration.

Under the new system, all citizens would be required to apply once again for their IDs with additional features including fingerprints, physical description, employment status, marital status and properties they own such as real estate.


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