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Kenya delays new digital ID launch due to ‘unfavorable circumstances’

Kenya delays new digital ID launch due to ‘unfavorable circumstances’

Kenyan authorities say a new date will be announced for the launch of the country’s new digital ID system after plans to get the system in place today October 2 fell through.

In a statement issued on September 29, the Principal Secretary for Immigration and Citizen Services, Julius Bitok, said the launch was postponed due to circumstances beyond the government’s control.

“We wish to inform the public and all the stakeholders that due to unfavorable circumstances, the official launch of the Maisha Namba and the digital ID ecosystem which was to be presided over by His Excellency the President William Ruto on October 2, 2023, at the Athletic Club, Nakuru Country, has been postponed,” reads a part of the press release.

“Meanwhile, public participation and stakeholders’ engagement forums on Maisha Namba and the digital ID ecosystem that are ongoing across the country will continue,” Bitok wrote, adding that “a new date for the launch will be communicated in due course.”

Preparations for the launch of the highly anticipated digital ID system in Kenya have been on for the past several months, with public officials giving several announcements and explanations regarding the project.

Rights advocates have also been vocal about it, urging the government to take steps that will avoid costly mistakes made in the implementation of previous digital ID projects.

Recently, religious leaders, civil education campaigners and some opinion leaders had a consultation meeting with Bitok and the National Technical Committee on digital ID to share their views on how the project should be handled, per a post on the Immigration and Citizen Services Facebook page.

The launch of the Maisha Namba and the digital ID card is part of the government’s expansive digital transformation plan which has the primacy objective of easing the way citizens access public and private sector services.

Just days before announcing the launch postponement, Bitok reiterated the importance of the new digital ID card which will be designed with sophisticated security features. He restated that obtaining it will not be mandatory.

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