Huduma Namba, is a free government service and is expected to cost between Sh5 billion and Sh6 billion.

It is conducted by the National Integrated Identity Management system (NIIMS) and involves collecting biometric data after which the systems generates a unique number (Huduma Namba) which will enable one to access government services. Such services include applying for a driving license, ID, birth certificate among others.

The government kicked off pilot testing on Monday across 15 counties including Nairobi, Makueni, Uasin Gishu, Embu, Busia, Kajiado, Baringo, Marsabit, Kilifi, Kisii, Tana River, Embu, Kisumu, and Wajir.

Launching the project, PS, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government of Kenya, Karanja Kibicho assured Kenyans that they did not have to go to their places of birth to register.

Below are excerpts of the interview between NTV with Dr Karanja on the project:

What is unique about this number?

Kenyans are required to carry several documents like the national identity card, KRA personal identification number, driving licence, passport and many others.

All these documents are recorded in different databases so Huduma Namba consolidates the information to arrive at the ‘single source of truth’ regarding a Kenyan.

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ODM leader Raila Odinga registers at the launch of the Huduma Namba registration exercise in Likoni, Mombasa on Tuesday, April 2, 2019.
Image: COURTESY

There is no new data the government is looking for. The only difference is that it is digital and biometric.
Huduma Namba is a useful tool for the government to use in national planning, social services, project resource allocation and even project infrastructure.

No other document gives the government the ability to serve its people that way.

Does it mean we can throw away our IDs? What will be their role?

Do not throw away your identity cards or driving licences. After the new registration, this data has to go for verification before you are issued with any sort of card or document.

This is to make sure that the information submitted tallies with what is already recorded.

Verification will take time and perhaps the earliest we can get a Huduma Namba document or card is during the issuing of the third generation ID cards.

Once we are done, the Huduma Namba will be the only identification document you will need.Without it, you will not access any government services that require documentation, just as you cannot do so without a national ID card.

Huduma Number is expected to capture biometric and other information data from birth to death. At what point will it be issued and how will one update the card?

The registration is for Kenyans aged six and above. The countrywide mass registration begins on March 15 after data from the pilot is analysed, logistics sorted out and last minute teething problems dealt with.

The mass registration will run for 45 days.

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President Uhuru Kenyatta with Ukambani Governors Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) during the launch of the Huduma Namba exercise in Machakos county on March 2, 2019.
Image: COURTESY

After the registration, the gadgets will be left with the chiefs to continue registering births, deaths, marriages, and any other updates. There will be a process for the updates.

Foreigners in Kenya are also supposed to get a digital number. Does it apply to those on short-stay visas? If yes, would it be issued at the point of entry or secured in advance?

Short term visitors or tourists are not expected to acquire a Huduma Namba.

The only non-citizens required to register are those with the status of workers, students and asylum seekers.

What infrastructure will be used in the pilot and has it been rolled out? Which parts of the country are involved in the pilot? How long will the trial run, what will it cost?

We have procured 31,500 biometric kits. The pilot phase of registration starts on February 18 to 22 in 15 counties.

The counties were chosen because of their differences in terrain, demographics and other factors.

The initial registration will give the government a varied picture to enable proper preparation for the mass registration.

Assistant chiefs have been mobilised and trained on the use of the biometric kits.

The countrywide mass registration will begin on March 15 after data from the pilot is analysed, logistics addressed and last minute teething problems ironed out.

Is there any link between this and the census?

The connection to the census is coincidental because of the timing. Huduma Namba was conceptualised in 2016 and has nothing to do with the census.

The national census involves the physical counting of people in a household and requests basic data.

The Huduma Namba does not require you to be at the same place with your family while you register. You do not need to go to your village or your county.

What will it cost me to register for Huduma Namba?

This is a free government service. The total cost of the exercise is between Sh5 billion and Sh6 billion.

The Huduma Namba will make the lives of Kenyans easy. Once we capture your information digitally, you will never again have to queue to submit new data, unless you choose to.

In the same way that your driver’s licence or national ID have the original photo taken as a teenager, so too shall the Huduma Namba.

Why were new kits bought instead of using the IEBC ones?

The government would love to use the IEBC kits and save money but this is not possible.

Had we borrowed the IEBC kits, we would have to return them at some point, meaning the crucial registration processes would grind to a halt.

Is Huduma Namba anchored in law?

Laws have been put in place to ensure no litigation hinders the rollout of this programme.

The Registration of Persons Act was amended in the National Assembly to include digital biometric and data capture.

A standalone Huduma Namba Bill is in Parliament and it includes permission to capture data as well as makes provisions for the protection of that information.

Single identification numbers have been used in the West to help governments plan; disburse benefits such as welfare, healthcare, housing and agriculture.

The government hopes Huduma Namba will play a similar role in channelling resources to the elderly, school children, the disabled, members of the proposed housing fund, small and medium enterprises and farmers.

It also hopes the number would aid in combating fraud. It could also help check the unwanted entry into the country by foreigners in the wake of terrorist threats and attacks.

The Star

Mpasho News

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