Nairobi — The government has clarified, stating that the digital national identification, known as the Maisha Card, will not be mandatory.
Julius Bitok, the Principal Secretary of Immigration and Citizen Services, emphasized that registration for the card will be voluntary.
President William Ruto is scheduled to launch the Sh1 billion project on September 29, 2023, which aims to transform the country into a digital Unique Personal Identifier (UPI)-based national identity database.
"The current IDs will continue to be recognized as a valid identification document
alongside the new card," he said in Nakuru during a sensitization campaign for the new card.
PS Bitok clarified that, unlike the Huduma Number, which required the collection of biometric data from the public, the Maisha Number will be generated using existing databases, including those from civil registration.
"We want to make the transition as seamless and convenient as possible. We
foresee a 3-5 years phase out of current IDs. But we are confident many Kenyans
will embrace Maisha Card because of the benefits it will give them," he said.
However, he noted that the new card will incorporate advanced security and technological enhancements. In contrast to the existing IDs, it will also facilitate digital identification.
Maisha Namba will serve as a unique personal identification number assigned to Kenyan citizens upon registration, typically at birth.
This number will become their lifelong personal identity number from birth to death.
For newborns, Maisha Namba will also serve as their birth certificate number, facilitating registration in educational institutions, National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), and transitioning to an ID number once they reach 18 years of age.
It will also function as their Personal Identification Number (PIN) for accessing various government services, including KRA, NSSF, NHIF, and NEMIS throughout their lifetime.
The master database will manage data for all registered citizens, refugees, and foreigners using fingerprint biometric technology, enhancing data accuracy and reliability.
It will consolidate existing independent databases into a single integrated register, serving as the central reference for all data related to Kenyan citizens and foreign residents in the country.
On the other hand, the Digital ID will be a digital representation of an individual, organization, or device, typically encompassing personal attributes, credentials, and authentication.
Maisha card which will bear Maisha Namba will essentially be a 3rd generation ID that will replace the current 2nd generation ID.
It will have enhanced security features, including a microprocessor electronic chip with encrypted data, rendering forgery and manipulation nearly impossible.
The card will feature a photo image of the applicant, an ID number, a card serial number, biometric data, biographic data, residential particulars, and advanced security elements.