Kenya begins trial programme for new digital ID cards
Kenya's government has begun a pilot programme for the new digital identification cards.
According to a statement issued on Wednesday, first-time ID applicants will now be issued the "new Maisha Card starting November 1st, 2023".
Applicants seeking replacements for defaced or lost cards will also receive the new card with greater security as the government evaluates the country's readiness for a complete deployment of digital IDs.
"On a trial basis, all Kenyans turning 18 in any part of Kenya will be issued with a Maisha Card. This way, we'll know whether there are any faults or issues before the penultimate launch." Prof Julius Bitok, Permanent Secretary for Immigration and Citizen Services, stated.
Maisha Card will include a unique personal identifier (UPI) number known as Maisha Namba, which will serve as its holders' primary and lifelong registration and identifying reference.
All babies will be given a Maisha Namba to use on their birth certificates and subsequent registration for government services such as school enrollment and health care. When they reach the age of 18, the same number will be converted to their Maisha card number.
The government plans to gradually phase out the current IDs in favour of Maisha Cards, with the present ID number translating to Maisha Namba. According to Bitok, there will be no mass registration for biometrics or a fixed funding for the exercise.
He stated that the Maisha Namba, Maisha Card, and Maisha Digital ID will be merged into a population record known as the Maisha Integrated Database. This will eliminate the need for vetting when issuing Identity Cards.
"This will revolutionise inclusivity for marginalised communities through voiding the need for vetting," he went on to say.
President William Ruto declared on Monday the intention to pilot digital IDs is to support the country's digital plans, including the consumption of government services.