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Kenya’s govt pushes ahead with contentious NIIMS roll out

Kenya , 20 Nov 2020

The National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS), also known as Huduma Namba, will begin to issue Huduma cards from 1 December 2020. However, many remain scepitcal about the system and continue to raise concern over data privacy and duplication of services.

Recently, Kenya’s government announced the appointment of Data Commissioner, Immaculate Kassait. Kassait's office will legislate and control how public data is used by government and private entities.

According to the Cabinet Secretary for Internal Security, Fred Matiang’i, the Huduma card will replace the national identity card and feature all citizen information and thereby improve government service delivery without duplication.

He added that all the data from various government institutions, such as birth certificates, national identification details, driving license details, tax information and even national health service information, have been integrated into the card, which he described as “a single source of truth”.

“The reason why you are getting this card is that you will get services wherever you go in this country. When we did the registration exercise last year, we registered around 37 million people,” said Matiang’I, who pointed out that the card has a QR code and a microchip that will store data.

Public concern

There is growing public mistrust in the system, with concern over duplication of services and data privacy and security.

@aldyhasty Why do we need the Digital Driving Licenses then if this thing has everything??? ama watu wanafaidika as usual (or they want to benefit as usual) #HudumaNamba #HudumaCard

@Aishawambu Systemic discrimination in access to documentation is real Kenya. Let's look at gaps and as we transition to digital ID (Huduma Namba) the government has to ensure that they leave no one behind. #HudumaNamba #HudumaCard

@Warighej I think there is alot of deception and poor planning about this #HudumaCard business. Didn’t we get a new ID not long ago? What's with the short notice especially after a portion of the country was skeptical about its issue? Is it a priority now???

A second mass registration has been scheduled for April 2021.

The government intends to replace all national identification cards with the Huduma card by December 2021.

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