Kenya national biometric enrollment project reaches 8 million people

A nationwide mass biometric registration push by Kenya’s Interior Ministry for the country’s National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) has reached at least 8 million people as it approaches one-third of the way through the allotted 45-day time period, Capital FM News reports.

The registration project, dubbed Huduma Namba, is planned to reach the country’s entire population, estimated at 49.7 million at the end of 2017, though it does not apply to those under 6 years of age. It began on April 2, and is expected to run until May 18, though Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi said registration kits will remain with assistant chiefs beyond then to enroll those who remain.

Matiangi acknowledged criticism of the program, but characterized it as propaganda or lies, according to The Star. He said that Huduma Namba will enable the government to provide security and plan more effectively, as well as reduce corruption, and asked elected leaders and government officials to help raise public awareness of the exercise.

“We want the country to move forward in terms of development and efficient service delivery. It is, therefore, very important for every citizen to get a Huduma Namba,” Matiangi says. He also called for regional administrators to deploy more KIEMS (Kenya integrated election management systems) registration kits to speed up the process.

IDEMIA defended the value of a contract to provide 45,000 KIEMS kits for Kenya’s 2017 elections at a hearing earlier this year.

The Huduma Namba number is intended to act as an identity verification credential, as the NIIMS attempts to consolidate birth certificates, and various IDs including Kenya Revenue Authority PIN, NSSF, NHIF, driving licenses and passports in a single digital file, The Star reports.

More than 100,000 police officers were registered ahead of the mass enrollment program, but critics say Kenya needs to upgrade its legal protections of citizen’s data to avoid potential misuse].

Kenya’s government has budgeted Sh5 billion (roughly US$49 million) for the project’s implementation, up from Sh3 billion when the program was unveiled in August.

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