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Govt source says Kenya’s biometric national ID card chip expiry protects security

Govt source says Kenya’s biometric national ID card chip expiry protects security

Kenyans, a local news portal has cited a government official as confirming that new national ID cards to be issued by the Department of Immigration will henceforth expire after every ten years.

The unnamed official, working in the Ministry of Interior, is reported to have told the publication that the ID-issuing authority has configured the microchip to be embedded in the card to have a validity period of a decade from the date of issue.

The government source is further quoted as clarifying that the ID card expiration date plan has nothing to do with revenue generation as some citizens have claimed. It should be said that lately, there have been opinions shared on Kenya’s social media space on this subject, to the effect that the move to allow ID cards expire is a means to enable the government generate money from renewals.

On this claim, the official said it is a plan that had existed even before the coming of the Maisah Namba digital ID project whose rollout was suspended by a court at the close of last year on grounds that certain regulatory requirements had not been met. However, a report by Techweez alleges that the government has silently resumed the issuance of Maisha Namba cards, a claim the government has denied.

The configuration of the microchip to expire within a period of time, the source said, is part of the security exigency for credentials embedded with microchips, adding that “it’s a global practice that is not just in Kenya.”

Kenya’s plan to introduce an expiry date to its national ID card comes a year after its southern neighbours Tanzania did away with it.

In February 2023, the country removed the expiry date from its national ID, The Citizen reports, with Home Affairs Minister Hamad Masauni explaining that the step was meant to reduce the inconveniences associated with renewing the credential.

At the close of last year, Kenya’s government announced a plan to increase fees for obtaining or renewing some identity credentials including national ID cards, birth certificates, work permits and passports, just to mention these few. The plan fell through nonetheless as it was halted by a court following a cascade of complaints.

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