Government, telecoms, please focus on things that matter

Huduma Namba

A Huduma Namba clerk gets the biometric data of a resident at Majengo Chief's office on May 15, 2019. Huduma Bill 2021 provides that NIIMS is the primary database for all national records including the voters’ register.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

I have recently been assailed with multiple ‘urgent’ texts from Safaricom and Airtel lines telling me it is imperative to reregister my line or I would be breaking the law.

I am immensely tired of the disorganisation within the companies who run this country. Why do I say this? Because in the past five years or so, I have been constantly and consistently asked for information from companies that already have it.

Let me give you a few examples. For Huduma Namba, which I am still against and will not be registering for unless I absolutely have to, the government said, oh, give us all your numbers, as we are aligning all the systems and therefore need all your information. But the government already has all my information.

My ID alone will give you my driver’s licence, my passport number, my KRA PIN, my NHIF and NSSF, and my birth certificate. All you have to do is literally key this into eCitizen – another platform that is meant to bring all my information together – and it will be available to you.


But no. All of a sudden, we were being threatened that we would be considered criminals if we don’t register for the scam that is Huduma Namba.

Another scam? New passports. Once again, the government has all this information on record (and I am not saying I know anything about how the government records our information – I am saying that this is really not my business, as a citizen, to do the work for you, ad infinitum).

So why is it that when the government issues a directive about getting a new passport, it is the citizen who has to go get registered by a chief, whom they’ve never met, to consult about a birth certificate the chief saw 20 years ago? How is this logical?

When applying for the first passport, did I not already hand in all these documents, and their copies? Where did you put them?

The situation continues with licences. I have to renew my licence. This means that I must pay for it again, and get a different card. But the new licences have biometrics on them. Isn’t the point of that that we shouldn’t have to discuss licences again for at least five years, like an ATM card? And why in the world do I have to go all the way to NTSA to get my fingerprints scanned again? Did the first ones fade? Have they expired? Did you lose them?

ID number

It would appear that Safaricom and Airtel, and the Communications Authority of Kenya, have joined in the foray of unnecessary work as well. Apparently, with this directive, everyone in Kenya who has a SIM card will be deregistered from the platform if they do not make their way down to the company’s offices and reregister – using their name, ID number, picture, and signature.

I don’t know about you, but I have already changed my SIM card at least three times – if there was something to confirm at the time, surely they did it then, when we went from normal SIMs, to micro ones, to nano ones, and then another forced move to 4G. And each time, my identity was confirmed.

In one case, I believe my picture and signature were taken (for Airtel) because we had to fill in whole forms to register. If you need to confirm that someone is the person making the M-Pesa withdrawal, for example, isn’t that the M-Pesa agent’s job, that they learn in training?

Why make a whole country reregister for something that should have been in the initial stage of agent training? Is it hard to ask for IDs? Are they not asking? And once again – is it then on me to have the burden of giving Safaricom information they already have to confirm what they already know?

And if this isn’t the case, then why aren’t these telcom operators communicating the real problem? Asking them online and on the channels provided feels like asking for state secrets – no information is given. I guess the traffic is supposed to be one way only.

Ah, me I am just tired of having to queue for the double work of useless things in the middle of a world war and a pandemic that the government has then taken advantage of to raise fuel prices. Can we please focus on the things that matter?