The Huduma Bill was proposed back in 2019.
The bill has been looked into extensively, but it mostly proposes the issuance of the Huduma Namba to all Kenyans. Huduma Namba, which is based on the nationwide database named NIIMS, will also be tied to all government services, meaning a person cannot receive such services from the government without the Huduma Card.
“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 Huduma Bill also seeks to harmonize other Acts with it. This means that existing databases that serve both functional and foundational requirements such as voter registers, taxes as well as social services and products will exist, but will be updated continuously based on NIIMS.
Nevertheless, 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.
A 2021 amendment of the bill also seeks to issue Huduma Namba to newborns for tax reasons. The revision states 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.
As seen, there are many issues surrounding the bill, some of which have been questioned by stakeholders and other interested parties.
For instance, 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.
Furthermore, ARTICLE 19 has brought up some interesting recommendations. Specifically, 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.
Public Hearing of the Bill
There will be a public hearing of the Huduma Bill on Wednesday February 23, 2022, from 9 AM to 5 PM in the mini-chamber 1st Floor, County Hall, Parliament Buildings.
‘Members of the public wishing to participate in the public hearing are required to prepare detailed written submissions, which they will hand over to the Committee in addition to the oral submission made,’ reads an invitation to the public hearing.