First-time ID applicants will be issued with Maisha Cards in a pilot scheme that will introduce digital registration of persons in the country.
Also set to receive the new card with enhanced security are applicants seeking replacements for defaced or lost cards as the government tests the country’s preparedness for a full rollout of digital IDs.
Immigration and Citizen Services PS Prof Julius Bitok said applicants who have turned 18 years old and those seeking duplicate cards will be among the first to receive the new card.
“All Kenyans turning 18 years in whichever part of Kenya will be issued with a Maisha Card on a pilot basis. This way, we will establish whether there are any errors or issues before we do the penultimate launch.”
The National Registration Bureau receives around 10,000 applications for first-time IDs across the country every day. On average, a further 5,000 requests for duplicate cards are lodged in its offices and in Huduma Centres daily.
Speaking after hosting members of the Civil Society to a briefing session on digital ID, the PS said the government expected to obtain useful feedback on what it will take to successfully roll out mass replacement of the current IDs.
He said the government was keen to avoid running into pitfalls similar to those that befell the unsuccessful introduction of Huduma Namba. It will therefore use the pilot phase to address potential challenges while also holding more public participation and stakeholders’ sensitisation sessions.
Civil Society representatives led by Amnesty International (Kenya) Executive Director Irungu Houghton pledged to support public participation and stakeholder forums on digital ID.
The representatives who presented a memorandum of concerns on digital ID to the PS urged the government to ensure apprehensions around data security and protection and genuine public participation and inclusion of marginalised communities were addressed.
“Whereas we are happy with the open-door policy that the government has adopted in engaging stakeholders on digital ID, there are areas around data privacy, inclusion of all voices and unfair vetting that needs to be addressed.”
To enhance security and minimise the risk of forgery, the Maisha card will feature a microprocessor electronic chip with encrypted data. It will also enjoy features supporting the creation of a virtual ID to be known as Maisha Digital ID for those with smartphones.
While launching locally manufactured smartphones on Monday, President Willam Ruto announced the intended piloting of digital IDs that are designed to complement online commerce and consumption of government services.
Maisha Card will feature a unique personal identifier (UPI) number known as Maisha Namba that will be the primary and lifelong registration and identification reference for its holders.
All newborns will also be issued with Maisha Namba to use in their birth certificates and subsequent registration for government services including school enrolment and health services. The same number will translate to their Maisha card number upon attainment of 18 years.
Under the proposed plan, the government will gradually phase out the 2nd generation IDs in favour of the Maisha Card with the current ID number translating to Maisha Namba.
There will however be no mass registration for biometrics or a dedicated budget for the exercise according to PS Bitok.
“During the rollout of the Huduma Number, all Kenyans were asked to register afresh. Billions of shillings were used to roll it out. For Maisha Namba, we not harvesting biometrics nor are we asking for additional money. We are using the existent budget for the registration of persons for the Maisha Namba ecosystem rollout.”
He said Maisha Namba, Maisha Card and Maisha Digital ID will be consolidated into a population register to be known as Maisha Integrated Database. This will negate vetting for issuance of Identity Cards.
“This will revolutionise inclusivity for marginalized communities through voiding the need for vetting.”