State to partner with Israeli firm to create online database of Kenyans

A woman applies for a new generation identity card at Kamin Oningo Beach in Rarieda Constituency in April. The event was organised by area MP Nicholas Gumbo to provide an opportunity for unregistered fishermen to get the document. FILE PHOTO | JACOB OWITI |

What you need to know:

  • The private firm will provide financing and lead in the execution of the project working closely with government officials.
  • The project is intended to begin in October with government employees the first to be registered.

The government is in talks with an Israeli firm to implement its plan to create an online database of all Kenyans.

The project is intended to help the government improve its planning and sort out security issues facing the country by creating a single database bearing all details of every person residing in Kenya.

It would be be carried out through a public-private partnership at the cost of Sh9 billion beginning October, when the first phase covering public servants will start.

Dubbed Umoja Kenya, the project is a presidential initiative and is to be implemented by the Kenya Citizens & Foreign Nationals Management Service (The Service), under the Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government.

The Service is a state corporation formed from the merger of four departments in the previous Ministry of Immigrations and Registration of Persons including the Civil Registry Department, National Registry Bureau, Immigrations Department, Department of Refugees Affairs and Integrated Population Registry Service.

Speaking to Sunday Business, Ms Mwende Gatabaki, the acting director general of The Service, said the Israeli firm, which she declined to identify, was picked from a list of three that were selected by the ministry to partner in the project.

“With very little resources, we reckoned the government could not raise the money to fund the project so we decided to enter a partnership with the private sector,” Ms Gatabaki said.

She said she would not disclose which Israeli company the government was engaging, saying only “the process is at a very tender stage and nothing has been firmed up.”

A proposal has already been written and forwarded to the Public Private Partnership Unit in the Treasury for approval.

The private firm will provide financing and lead in the execution of the project working closely with government officials. One of the requirements of the proposed deal is that the partner work with local companies.


Once complete, information about any Kenyan including name, age, relatives, property owned and residence will be available to government agencies at the click of a button. Citizens will be issued with a digital ID, e-passport and e-driving license.

It will also help identify foreigners who may have corruptly acquired identification documents.

In the past few years, Kenya has suffered from attacks believed to have been carried out by terrorist groups from Somalia. 

“We will get to a point where you will not get basic public services without presenting your digital ID,” Ms Gatabaki said.

The project is intended to begin in October with government employees the first to be registered. Members of the public service will be required to present all their identification details, including their current identification cards (IDs), birth certificates and residential addresses. The executing team will then capture each individual’s biometric data including facial image, fingerprints and iris scan.

The data collected in the process will be linked to other databases like the Land Registry and data held by the registrar of persons to create “one single source of truth” for all Kenyans.

“We expect to have covered about 70 per cent of the country by June 2015,” Ms Gatabaki said.

The plan is to commercialise the database upon completion in order to recover its cost and turn it into a revenue-generating venture for the government.

The institution, Ms Gatabaki said, is currently talking to the players in the banking and insurance sectors under the Association of Kenya Credit Providers who will be anchor clients of the service.

“I am sure we will raise at least Sh25 billion from this service in addition to the other benefits it comes with,” she said.

Former Information and Technology PS Bitange Ndemo called for the fast-tracking of the Information and Data Collection Bill to deal with concerns about the security of individual personal details.


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