Kenyans to get new digital identity cards in next two weeks

Immigration and Citizens Services PS Julius Bitok flanked by his counterparts address the press on the plan by the government to roll out issuance of Digital Identification Cards. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Kenyans will start receiving third-generation identity cards also known as Maisha cards in two weeks’ time.

President William Ruto is set to launch the new cards on September 29.

State Department of Immigration Principal Secretary Julius Bitok said the rollout will include new applicants for national identity cards, newborns and those seeking to replace their lost identity cards.

“For anybody turning 18 years old as from the end of this month will be issued a Maisha Card, we are now going to issue a 3rd generation card,” said Bitok. 

PS Bitok spoke on Tuesday in Nairobi during a review meeting of the implementation process of the digital identification programme. 

“The national steering committee has graciously approved the proposals made by national digital identity technical committee to have a national digital identity implemented,”

On June 30 this year, the government gave a directive to the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and Digital Economy to come up with a digital identity system within 90 days.

The UPI is one of President Ruto’s administration Bottom Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) tied to digitization of government services.

It seeks to digitally register and identify citizens with issuance of smart identity cards.

Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo said that the government is keen on strengthening security of the digital identity system to address security threats. 

“We are going to have a master database which has a personal information of Kenyans. we don’t want to do a launch today and after launching there is annulment.

Mr. Omollo called on government institutions to take up the opportunity of the collective data information and utilise to transform their service provision.

PS Bitok noted that the digital identity will have four components including Unique personal identifier called Maisha number, Maisha Card (3rd generation) and Digital ID which will be accessible on a mobile phone.

Another feature, the PS Immigration said will be Master Population register which will integrate information for Kenya citizens, immigrants and refugees.

“It is a register which is able to speak to each other, which is integrated well so that the system is seamless and we are able to have accuracy,” he stated.

According to Bitok, the government will spend Sh1 billion to finance the project to completion which he says involves issuing three million identity cards annually.

“We are going to put a timeline so that we give Kenyans time, but for the time being, we will have a transition period which will be like 2 to 3 years to be able to transit into the new number,” he said.

State Department of Economic Planning Principal Secretary James Mulati lauded the government’s initiative to have citizens digitally identified.

“When we talk about effective and efficiency service delivery, digital identity is very critical,” said Mr. Mulati.