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Kenyan lawmakers seek probe into flopped Huduma Namba digital ID project

Kenyan lawmakers seek probe into flopped Huduma Namba digital ID project
 

Some Members of Parliament (MPs) in Kenya have called for an inquest into how funds were used in the implementation of the Huduma Namba digital ID project which turned out to be one of the most controversial undertakings by former President Uhura Kenyatta.

The recommendation for a probe came out strongly during a recent session in which Interior Ministry Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo appeared before members of the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee to respond to questions on the execution of the 2021/2022 state budget, The Standard reports.

MPs called for the audit after Omollo had difficulty responding to certain questions on the Huduma Namba project.

Launched in 2019, the Huduma Namba is said to have gulped more than ten billion Kenyan Shillings (over US$69 million) by the close of 2022, per government records.

However, in an outing in June, President Wiliam Ruto described the project as a fraud and claimed the country spent around 15 billion Kenyan shillings on it. This was as he emphasized the importance of a new digital ID system for the country.

Recently, information surfaced that there was an outstanding debt of 184 million Kenyan Shillings (US$1.2 million) owed to the project, which is what has now prompted the MPs to press for an audit.

The Huduma Namba was apparently conceived with good intentions, but its execution turned out to be highly controversial, facing many challenges including lawsuits alleging rights violations and exclusion.

Although the current Kenyan Administration is already far advanced with plans of replacing the Huduma Namba with a new digital ID system, the representatives of the people think the facts must be established on how huge sums of tax payers’ money were spent on the project, and whether it brought them any value.

The special audit is expected to be conducted by the Office of the Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu.

With the visible failures of the Huduma Namba, there have been calls from advocacy groups for the government to guard against the same mistakes that bedevilled the project as it looks to implement a new one.

Calls for halt to hospital biometric system rollout

Plans by Kenya’s National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to deploy a biometric system have been panned by members of the National Assembly, who say the Sh4.2 billion ($29 million) price tag is too high, People Daily reports.

NHIF Chief Executive Samson Kuhora says the current system cost SH1.6 million ($11 million), but leaves gaps leading to practical problems.

An NHIF card used for access to health services was discontinued earlier this year, and recent audits have revealed mismatched hospital records and negative impacts on patients.

MPs from the Committee on Health argue that the government cannot afford the project due to a weak economy.

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