ICT CS Eliud Owalo says digital Identity Cards are not mandatory

ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo.[Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

Information, Communication, and Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo has shed more light on the government’s plans to introduce the use of digital identity cards to access government services online.

Speaking during the release of the ministry’s one-year Status Report on Monday, July 31, the CS said the government shall not force citizens to get digital identity cards.

He further explained that Kenyans will decide among themselves on whether they prefer to use the digital IDs or not.

“Let me also clarify that when it comes to pass, we will not force any Kenyan to take a digital identity. No, the onus will be on you to decide whether or not you want to get government services through your digital identity based on your bio-data or you want to physically visit government offices,” Owalo said.

Additionally, CS Owalo says the government will make a digital identity for all Kenyans to facilitate the consumption of government services online at their own will.

He attributed the success of digital identification to a benchmarking that the government had done in different parts of the world.

 “We have done quite a bit of benchmarking; it has happened in Estonia, Belgium, Pakistan, and it has happened in India, these are global examples that we can benchmark with and Kenya can in no way be an exception in this regard,” he said.

While clarifying the failure of the stalled Huduma number initiative by the previous regime, Owalo reveals that the government will only leverage the experiences of other countries which have undertaken a similar type of initiative where it adds value.

“Any mistakes made in the past should not deter us from pursuing noble objectives, we should look at the issue of digital identity from a contextual perspective. As a government today, we believe that we can leverage on skills, competencies, and capabilities within Kenyans themselves and undertake these programs,” he added.

He also assured that the government would not have revenue leakages nor spend taxpayers' money wrongfully and that the government will have e-signatures to enhance effective interaction with the public.