Read time: 3 minutes

Kenya's High Court lifts injunction on new digital IDs issuance

By , Kenya Correspondent
Kenya , 26 Feb 2024
President William Ruto.
President William Ruto.

The Kenyan High Court has removed the injunction barring the government from issuing new digital identity cards.

Following an application filed by Katiba Institute, the courts froze the issuance of ID cards, also known as Maisha Numbers, in December of last year.

Katiba Institute voiced concerns about the safety of collected personal information, its assessment and processing, and public engagement.

However, High Court Judge John Chigiti overruled earlier order and instructed that the case be sent to the constitutional human rights division for hearing and determination.

In November, the Kenyan government initiated a trial programme for the new digital IDs. First-time ID applicants will now be granted the "new Maisha Card," according to the administration.

Applicants who needed to replace defaced or lost cards would also receive a new card.

"All Kenyans turning 18 in any part of Kenya will receive a Maisha Card on a trial basis. This way, we'll know if there are any problems or issues before the official debut," said Prof Julius Bitok, Permanent Secretary for Immigration and Citizen Services, when he announced the pilot.

Following the removal of the injunction, Bitok stated that the government will now hasten the issuance of new cards. He said around 60,000 Kenyans had already applied for the ID cards.

"State Department for Immigration and Citizen Services has taken note of the High Court Directive on Friday, February 23, 2024, lifting the orders issued on December 5, 2023, that bared the Ministry of Interior and National Administration from the issuance of new generation national Identity Card also known as Maisha Card," Bitok said in a statement.

"We assure all persons with pending applications that we will expeditiously produce IDs on a first in-first out basis beginning immediately," he went on to say.

Maisha Card will include a unique personal identity (UPI) number called Maisha Namba, which will serve as the primary and permanent registration and identification reference for its holders.

President William Ruto has previously indicated that the piloting of digital IDs aims to advance the country's digital ambitions, including the use of government services.

Daily newsletter