Having a centralized database of everyone residing in Kenya has for sure it’s pros to the government as well as legitimate concerns to citizens and foreigners residing in the country. At least for now we understand the unique number – Huduma Namba generated by the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) will be used to save biometric, demographic and physical details of all Kenyan residents. Huduma Namba generated by the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) will be used to save biometric, demographic and physical details of all Kenyan residents mainly for efficient government service delivery which is good. However, having a legal database containing sensitive information on people could pose severe risks alike if that information is not well protected from abuse.
Too much publicity about Huduma Namba is already in the wind, in fact immediately the president issued an executive order on the same everyone at the county level working for the government started embracing it. We’ve literally heard the principal secretary threaten to offer no government services to anyone without a Huduma Namber. But one would easily wonder what could be the difference between a Huduma Namber and just using an Identification number (ID) or passport number for foreigners. It’s not clear enough to Kenyans and that’s the problem; you’d imagine a government initiated activity that’s just about to gain traction to be far more conversant in our households at this time – a few weeks before the exercise if officially kicked off.
Trying to understand the government’s motive for this exercise while considering the already available national Identification numbers or passport numbers is not an easy task. Little knowledge I have about the National Integrated Identity Management System compared to the information the government already has doesn’t go beyond capturing more information on residents. But let’s take a step back once more; according to the Executive Order No. 1 of 2018, this initiative aims to create and manage a Central Master Population Register which will be the authentic ‘source of truth’ of identity of all people residing in Kenya.
Information currently available in our possession on the benefits of having a Huduma Namba include easy access to government services, coordinated registration of people, avoid duplication in registration and reduce operational costs, detect and prevent fraud, impersonation or any other crime. According to the principal secretary, fingerprints which the government already has though issuance of National Identification numbers do not necessarily match with the face because of history where such exercises were infiltrated.
While the government insists on forging forward with the exercise, there are legitimate concerns that currently lack any proper explanation; among them include the risk of abuse of the digital legal database, lack of data protection laws and policies in Kenya and the administrative inefficiencies hindering reach of birth registration to all Kenyans.
Personal details stored at the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) will be linked and relayed in real time to other government agencies including the Lands registry, National Social Security Fund, law enforcement agencies, National Hospital Insurance Fund, Kenya Revenue Authority, financial agencies, immigrations, National Transport and Safety Authority, Independent Electoral and Electoral and Boundaries Commission and universities
Requirements to get a Huduma Namba
- Most importantly, you’ll need an identification document that can either be a birth certificate, ID card, driving license or the Kenya Revenue Authority PIN for you to be registered.
- A digital picture
- Personal details including names, gender, date of birth, age, citizenship, information about parents or guardians, place of birth, phone number, email address, physical and permanent residence and marital status.
How to get a Huduma Namba
Registration for the Huduma Namber will take place at homes, mobile registration centers and public institutions like hospitals, prisons, and schools between 6 am and 6 pm, including weekends and public holidays starting February 2019.