President Ruto hints at rolling out 'improved version' of Huduma Namba
President William Ruto has said the government will embark on the registration of Kenyans onto a digital platform similar to the Huduma Namba program.
Speaking on Friday at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) during the observation of International Data Privacy Day, President Ruto said the government will have the system up and running before the end of the year.
He said he would build on the lessons learnt from the previous exercise and ensure Kenyans have a digital identity this year.
“I have also asked the Ministry of ICT to work on a digital identity so that the big Huduma thing that never was we can finally have, as Kenya, a digital identity,” he said.
“I have told ICT CS Eliud Owalo that by the end of this year, Kenyans must be able to identify themselves digitally because it is not the work of the government to issue IDs but to identify Kenyans.”
The Head of State, who also launched the Data Protection Registration system, said the Kenya Kwanza government will pursue a data protection regime that serves public interests.
He said it would be achieved by ensuring that there is sufficient information for effective and efficient delivery of services, further noting that the move will be pursued without compromising private data.
“We must also ensure that criminals do not hide under data protection or exploit it to perpetuate crime,” said the President.
“For Kenya to realise the maximum potential of the Digital Superhighway, we must have a clear data management plan that is promotive of our agenda for the digital economy.”
Kenyans started registering for the Huduma Namba in 2018 in the first phase before it was fully launched in 2019.
However, the High Court declared the Huduma card unconstitutional in October 2021 after Katiba Institute, a lobby group, sued the Interior ministry arguing that no safeguards had been given to assure Kenyans that their data will not be abused as the rollout lacked guarantees of theft or misuse of Kenyans personal information.
During the registration process, the government used Ksh.10.6 billion to register 11 million Kenyans for Huduma namba.
The controversial biometric identification scheme was launched in order to create and manage a central database for information about individual citizens.
It involved collection of biometric data after which the systems generate a unique number - the Huduma Namba - which would enable one to access government services digitally.
The government then argued that Huduma Namba was a useful tool for the government to use in national planning, social services, project resource allocation and even project infrastructure.
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