The Kenyan government is again considering the implementation of a digital identity card scheme, similar to the ill-fated Huduma Namba project of the past. ICT Cabinet Secretary, Eliud Owalo, has stated that the current administration is eager to explore the possibility of a digital ID card as part of their newly launched digitization program.
The Huduma Namba project, which was first introduced by the previous administration aimed to serve as a tool for Kenyans to access important public services and spur the country’s digital economic efforts under the Digital Economy Blueprint. The framework promised to improve Kenya’s and Africa’s ability to leapfrog economic growth. However, the project failed to come to fruition due to legal challenges and court battles that declared it unconstitutional.
Owalo acknowledged that the previous attempt at a digital ID card failed due to a lack of proper education and communication, as well as suspicions and political controversies surrounding the project. He stated that the current government intends to roll out a new digital identity card to facilitate virtual transactions between the state and citizens as part of their plan to digitize over 5,000 government services within the next six months.
Currently, Kenyans are required to carry multiple documents such as a national ID card, a KRA personal identification number, a driving license, and a passport among others. The proposed digital ID card, similar to the Huduma Namba project, aims to consolidate this information from different databases into a single source of truth for each individual.
The introduction of a digital identity card system could bring numerous advantages, such as increasing business prospects and generating new employment opportunities. However, it is essential to take the past into account and ensure adequate communication and openness to prevent any mistrust or legal difficulties in the future.