The government of Kenya has kicked off the issuance of innovative ID cards, an initiative following the recent official unveiling of the “Maisha Number” program aimed at digitizing citizens’ identification. The novel Maisha card is equipped with an embedded chip for secure data storage, enabling users to establish a “Maisha Digital ID” on their smartphones. This move marks the pilot test of the ID program, with the Permanent Secretary for Immigration and Citizen Services, Julius Bitok, foreseeing invaluable feedback that will inform a wider rollout in the near future.
The Maisha Number, also known as the Unique Personal Identifier (UPI), is an initiative by the Kenyan government to transition from the conventional National ID card to a more sophisticated digital identification system. With an allocated budget of Sh1 billion, or roughly $6.6 million, the government has laid down the infrastructure for the implementation of this system. This initiative encompasses four crucial digital components: the Maisha Card, Maisha Namba, Digital Signature, and Master National Population Register, aimed at refining identity management systems and broadening access to both government and private-sector services.
A significant feature of the Maisha Number is the plan to issue it to Kenyan citizens at birth, essentially replacing the birth certificate number. This digital ID will serve manifold purposes including maintaining education records, tax identification through the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), and even acting as a death certificate number. The plan is to make this digital ID is accessible on mobile phones, allowing citizens to have a digital copy, thus enhancing both convenience and security.
The transition to the Maisha Number denotes a shift from second-generation to third-generation IDs, embracing digital technology to boost efficiency and user-friendliness. This system is tailored to support online services provided by the government and the private sector, with a keen focus on curtailing identity fraud and forgery. The government says that unlike the preceding Huduma Namba digital program, which encountered legal hurdles, the Maisha Card alleviates the need for fresh registration or the collection of personal biometrics, a move applauded by many considering the privacy concerns tied to biometric data collection.
With the rollout structured in three phases, targeting first-time ID applicants, those seeking duplicates, and replacements for lost IDs, the Kenyan government’s investment aims at covering public education and registration exercises to foster public engagement and comprehension of the Maisha Number benefits. This pilot test represents an important step towards the digital transformation of citizen identification in Kenya, with other nations likely watching to see how the effort plays out.
Source: Nairobi Wire
November 3, 2023 – by the Mobile ID World Editorial Team