The Huduma Namba fiasco has been with us for some time now. Huduma Namba, as defined by the state, is a unique and permanent personal identification number randomly assigned to a resident individual enrolled in NIIMS.
It also introduces the Huduma Card, which contains the unique number and other personal details. The card may be issued to minors who have attained the age of 6 and Kenyan adults.
The details of the Namba have since been published in the Kenya Gazette as the Huduma Namba Act.
Parliament has since introduced the Huduma Bill 2021 Amendment to rectify some issues that have been raised by the public and stakeholders.
For instance, the Bill now seeks to issue Huduma Namba to newborns. This, the proposal argues, is for tax reasons (the proposal wants newborns to be enrolled in the biometric identification system so that the state can identify them when they turn 18. It will also see them file returns irrespective of their earnings status).
The clause, as a whole, aims to replace KRA PINS with Huduma Namba, with the goal that KRA will nab tax cheats.
All this information should be part of the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS), which also consists of the NIIMS database, Huduma Namba, and the Huduma Card.
Following the proposal, every Kenyan resident shall be enrolled into NIIMs, and shall also have a Huduma Namba.
The revision adds that Huduma Namba will be assigned at birth, or upon enrolment.
Parents should know that this registration exercise should be done within 90 days of birth, and it is compulsory.
Late registrations will be met with a payment of a late registration penalty.
Based on these pending developments, it is clear why stakeholders are seeing issues with data protection in the coming days because the system will hold vast amounts of information.
To this end, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa alongside Civil Society Organizations, have submitted a joint memorandum to Parliament that will ensure the Huduma Bill promotes the full realization of access to legal identity, the right to privacy and data protection.
ARTICLE 19 has brought up some interesting recommendations. For instance, it says the government must be tasked to invest in building user trust and confidence in digital ID. This should be done by engaging the public.
The government should also ensure a fully inclusive identification system, which means that locals can access documents such as birth certificates and ordinary IDs before transitioning to the Huduma Namba system.
The year will be interesting as such issues continue to get more coverage, and more stakeholders put the government to task in ensuring that it does not abuse an already controversial system.
You can find the entire set of recommendations by ARTICLE 19 here.