The piloting of the Maisha Namba has begun. This is after the government gazetted regulations to anchor a new personal registration system. On October 25, 2023, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki introduced revisions to the Registration of Persons Regulations through a Special Gazette. These changes incorporated provisions for the issuance of electronic identification cards and the establishment of an electronic register.
Furthermore, these amended regulations now permit the utilization of facial characteristics in addition to fingerprints for personal identification. The Maisha Namba will enable citizens to verify their identity online using biometric features. This includes fingerprints or facial recognition such as the iris. The revised regulations also formally acknowledge the Unique Personal Identifier (UPI). This will be assigned at birth and serve as a lifelong identification number for every Kenyan individual.
When the initial digital ID dubbed Huduma Namba was introduced. Kenyans learned of the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIMS). The database was meant to enable the use of biometric data to identify all enrolled residents in Kenya. This indicates there is not much difference between Huduma Namba and Maisha Namba, other than the name.
The Immigration and Citizen Services PS Prof. Julius Bitok said piloting will help assess the country’s preparedness for the adoption of digital ID. The PS says the government wants to “ get it right” after previous attempts to introduce a digital ID failed. Last week, President Ruto stated the piloting phase will last 2 months. The president added that the pilot phase will end with an official launch in December this year.
New ID Applicants to Get Maisha Namba
As the pilot phase begins, public participation is still ongoing. The government has so far held 698 forums. The government has said that it will not make it mandatory for Kenyans with second-generation IDs to transit to Maisha Namba. That said, starting from November of this year, first-time ID applicants will receive the Maisha Card as part of the pilot phase. Additionally, those requesting replacements for damaged or lost cards will also be issued the new card.
The government claims the new ID comes with enhanced security features. “We are going to enhance our national security because the new Maisa Namba card is tamper-proof. With your phone, you can also apply for your Maisha Digital ID and access online services easily.” stated PS Bitok.