Nubian Rights Forum urges equitable rollout to Kenya’s UPI system
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) led by the Nubian Rights Forum are urging the government to listen to public concerns and center human rights in their new UPI system. They ask to have technological, policy, and legal frameworks in place to prevent long-term problems that could arise as they implement the digital ID.
Starting on July 1st, the UPI system will begin to roll out. UPI numbers will be used to identify school children and will become their ID number once they turn 18. The ID will be used to access government services throughout users’ lifetimes.
Hudama Namba, Kenya’s first and now discontinued attempt at digital IDs, still concerns stakeholders as Kenya tries to implement a new UPI system.
In a statement, CSOs from the Nubian Rights Forum said “lessons from Huduma Namba rollout show that if not done right, implementing digital ID systems produces further inequalities for minority and historically marginalised communities,” particularly when it comes to those who are double registered, as is the case with Kenyans whose biometrics are in the refugee database.
It also says that the introduction of UPI could worsen inequities for communities who cannot access birth certificates or IDs due to barriers like discrimination, distance, cost, and corruption. The government should take its time to ensure the new system improves on the failings of the previous attempt, the groups say.
Signatory groups also include Namati Kenya, Access Now, and the Haki na Sheria Initiative.
Lobby group Operation Linda Ugatuzi argues entirely against the system, claiming in a public announcement that taxpayers could lose 11.2 billion Kenyan shillings (approximately US$80 million) on the new registration while the last system cost taxpayers 6.5 billion shillings ($47 million).