State: Unique Person Identifier to scrap national census, vetting for IDs

Huduma namba card

Joyce Wanjiku Muchina displays her Huduma Namba card after receiving it from the then Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i at Kiambu County Commissioner's offices on November 18, 2020, during the launch of the Huduma Namba Card issuance to Kenyans.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

The introduction of a Unique Person Identifier (UPI) will scrap off the counting of people during the national census.

Immigration and Citizen Services Principal Secretary (PS) Julius Bitok made the announcement in an address after launching a country-wide registrars' workshop to check the country’s readiness for the launch of the UPI.

Mr Bitok said the introduction of the unique number will provide accurate numbers on the population of people living in Kenya at any given time.

“We believe the implementation of the UPI at birth will bring to an end some of the things we have been doing, like the national census, because at any given time we will know how many persons will be living in Kenya and what they will be doing. What we shall need from the census will be more than counting the number of people,” he said.

The manual registration system fails to capture the exact number of persons born and dying in the country, with statistics from the Civil Registration Bureau indicating that only 86 percent of births and 55 percent of deaths are accurately captured.

Despite being a legal requirement that among other things, yields important data on population and other demographics, the registration of births and deaths has especially been a challenge among nomadic and pastoral communities.

In Kajiado County, for instance, the statistics for births and deaths currently stand at 85 and 31, respectively.

“This number will be issued immediately when a child is born and this will be purely online. The nurse will go to the e-citizen portal where they will key in the parent's IDs, which will then populate all her details, at which point the Sh50 registration fee will be paid and the birth certificate containing the UPI will be generated,” said the PS.

The UPI will be a code bearing more details of the child including the gender. It is an upgrade of the current birth entry number that is issued manually during the registration of new births.

It is currently being piloted in Nairobi and neighboring counties and will be used subsequently in school and later on as the ID upon attainment of the legal age, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA)pin and the NHIF and death certificate number.

“It will be a number for everything an individual will be requiring a number for in Kenya,” the PS added.

The model borrowed from Estonia is set to be launched on March 1, by President William Ruto.

Currently, 300 government services are accessible online but the target is to have 5,000 on the e-service platform by the end of June.

The state department has contracted Webmaster, a local private IT firm, to digitise the manual registers.

The move is aimed at ending the vetting of persons living along border counties when they seek government services like obtaining the national Identity card.

It is also aimed at increasing tax revenue, with officials claiming the move will triple the current annual revenue base of Sh1.3 trillion to Sh3.3 trillion.

The hope is also that the eradication of paperwork will reduce corruption during delivery of government services.

Two weeks ago, President Ruto said the government will reintroduce the Huduma number, whose rollout was beset by court and political challenges over concerns about the security of captured data and apprehensions over its role in last year’s General Election.

If re-introduced, the Huduma number will replace the current national ID card.

The Jubilee administration had hinted that the Huduma number would match all the digits of the current except the first two, easing the transition to the new identifier for those already aged 18 and above and who have already been issued with IDs.

It added that those attaining 18 years will no longer be issued with ID cards and will only get the Huduma card.