Huduma Namba has attracted its fair share of publicity since it was made official sometime towards the end of 2018. The new identification system is defended as a better system than the ordinary ID cards that have reportedly, from time to time, been limiting in terms of practical uses. The outcome? Well, the State says it has wasted a lot of resources duplicating registrations and eroded the trust that people had in the identity ecosystem.
With the nationwide database (NIIMS) under development, for which Huduma Namba will be based, the country plans to augment the system with more data besides what was ruled by the High Court that the exercise was optional. Parliamentarians are currently deliberating on a new Huduma Bill 2019, which, should it be assented, will require all Kenyans to pick the number.
A section of the Bill highlights additional details of the ecosystem, some of which will overwrite the ruling that Huduma Namba must not be linked to public services.
“Every resident individual shall have a mandatory obligation to present Huduma Namba in order to be issued with a passport, apply for a driving license, register a mobile phone number, register as a voter, pay taxes, transact in the financial market, open a bank account, register a company or public benefit organization, transfer or make any dealings in land, register for power connection, access universal healthcare services, register a marriage…” reads part of the bill.
The list is long and unquestionably will make it near impossible to perform any activity that requires correspondence with a government office or private organizations.
Traditional ID Limitations
It is worth noting that the services mentioned above are offered using the national ID as the official form of identification, but as said before, it does not serve functional requirements. More so, the move that IDs are insufficient forms of identification and registration of certain services is based on the idea that it offers general identification (and nothing more) for official reasons, which is the same fate that affects birth certificates.
To counter the issues, the State wants to harmonize the system where both functional and foundational systems are served by a single number that fuses all forms of data. Specific functions such as passport or driving license application (that has since been digitized) will effectively be authenticated by Huduma Namba.
But haven’t these services been running just fine with the good ol’ ID card? The answer is a resounding Yes, but you will be reminded again that the government has lost funds and resources trying to overcome the shortcomings of identity duplication.
Harmonizing other Acts with Huduma Bill 2019
In principle, existing databases that sever both functional and foundational requirements such as voter registers, taxes as well as social services and products exist but will be updated continuously based on NIIMS.
However, social services and other forms of data are under different Acts of Parliament, such as the Citizen and Immigration Act 2011, Tax Procedures Act 2015, National Hospital Insurance Act 1998 and the Elections Act 2011, to mention a few. The Huduma Bill 2019 proposes that these Acts be adjusted to make way for efficiencies that will be achieved by basing identification and registrations on Huduma Namba.