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Digital Huduma Card will transform lives

COMMENTARY
By Mike Ngwala | November 3rd 2015

Huduma Kenya’s concept has not only won twelve awards worldwide, it has also helped Kenya jump up 28 places, from position 136 to 108 in the World Bank’s annual ranking of countries with the ease of doing business.

A World Bank survey released last week indicates Huduma Kenya’s services have contributed to the steep drop in the number of days investors take to start a business, register property and access credit. That makes Huduma Kenya claim its position as the crown jewel of the Jubilee government.

The greatest plus of the seamlessness of the Huduma Centres is their operating model of Integrated Service Delivery (ISD). It provides the citizen with multiple-channel,single-window access to government services at one-stop Citizen Service Centres, complete with call centres, mobile phone platforms and web portals.

The citizen-centric Huduma Kenya is already benchmarking against world-class best practice in service delivery.Huduma Kenya Programme has won seven Global Awards all in one Financial Year - 2014/ 2015.

Later this year, the Government will launch the digital Huduma Card designed to revolutionise how we pay for services and access money from some government institutions. It is targeting 14 million Kenyans to use the Huduma Card in a rollout over seven years. The Huduma Card will use MasterCard prepaid payment technology, providing cardholders with the safety, convenience and reliability of electronic payments. This will have an immediate, significant and positive impact on the lives of millions of Kenyans, many of whom have not previously had access to a formal bank product.

Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Ann Waiguru recently initiated work on Huduma Card ahead of its launch later in the year. It is a major leap forward in Kenya’s social and economic development and places the country at the same level of service provision with the more advanced nations of North America, Europe and Asia.

The Huduma Card is the country’s first multipurpose social card with payment functionality. This is the largest rollout of a formal government electronic payments solution in East, Central and the Horn of Africa and will see both the Kenyan government and its citizenry benefit from the safety and convenience of electronic payments.

After nearly two years and the opening of 40 service centres around the country, Huduma Kenya is now one of the most renowned public service organizations providing 40 different public services from over 10 different Government ministries, departments and agencies at a single “one stop shop”.

Huduma cardholders will be able to pay for a wide range of government services, including KRA, drivers’ licenses, NHIF and NSSF. Furthermore Kenyans who receive government payments, such as social welfare grants, disaster relief disbursements or organisations such as the oversubscribed UWEZO Fund will also be able to access their funds using the Huduma Card.

Other key benefits of the Huduma Card are that it will minimise fraud and graft. Experts estimate that inefficient and corruption-prone cash payments can cost up to 1.5 per cent of a country’s GDP. It will also reduce leakages, and increase the likelihood that payments get to intended beneficiaries, helping to improve the lives of those who were previously underserved.

This digital revolution was born out of the realisation that millions of Kenyans lack access to the most basic financial tools. They don’t have secure places to save money or a reliable means to transact.

Through the introduction of the Huduma Card, Kenyans will benefit from having a formal financial product, helping them build a stronger future for themselves, their families and their communities.

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