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Kenya unveils details on new digital ID rollout, India potential partner

Kenya unveils details on new digital ID rollout, India potential partner

Kenyan officials have given insights on the work being done by the government to introduce a new secure digital ID system as India is also being cited as a potential partner in the process.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki and the Principal Secretary at the Immigration Department Julius Bitok spoke on the digital ID plans at the 2023 ID4Africa meeting taking place in the country’s capital Nairobi, according to local media reports.

During one meeting on Wednesday May 24, Kindiki shared the Kenyan government’s plans of rolling out a digital ID system that will link up all of the country’s databases and enable safe and seamless access to a wide range of government and event private sector services, writes Pulse.

The new system will also give room for new possibilities of online ID authentication, including web-based authentication, which would mean lesser need for physical verification and more control over the sharing of personal data, said Kindiki.

The official noted that as part of efforts to make the ID system reliable and robust enough for enhanced security, they are adding iris and facial biometrics to the already existing automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) used in the current system.

With this added layer of security, Kindiki believes ID-related crimes in Kenya would be effectively brought under check.

Also speaking on the issue during another ID4Africa session on Tuesday May 23, Bitok, who recently led a Kenyan delegation to Pakistan for partnership talks on the new ID project, said the system, which will issue Unique Personal Identifiers (UPI) including to new-borns, will be rolled out on September 16.

The date, he said, is significant as September 16 has, since 2018, been celebrated by some countries around the world as International ID Day, a moment to evaluate strides recorded by nations in identity matters.

Bitok added that the objective of the government is to put in place an ID system that will be secure enough for business transactions, including for Know Your Customer (KYC) checks.

Pulse also quotes Kenya’s cabinet Secretary of ICT Eliud Owalo as saying during a recent meeting that the new ID system does not seek to replicate the Huduma Namba which has been heavily criticized by rights groups.

According to Owalo, the new system will be rolled out in a manner that reflects the inputs of relevant stakeholders.

Meanwhile, an article by ANI explains why a partnership with India would be useful in the implementation of Kenya’s digital ID.

It highlights India huge digital experience and its digital stack which is based on the massive Aadhaar digital ID system.

In the article, Owalo is quoted as citing countries such as Belgium, India and Pakistan when it comes to success stories of digital ID projects.

The hope is that the new system Kenya wants to introduce will help the country in the same way India stack has helped in delivering financial inclusion and facilitating access to important government services.

These developments come as nine rights groups, many of them based in Kenya, recently issued a statement calling on the government to take appropriate steps needed to make the new system more inclusive.

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