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Kenya

Huduma Namba roll-out delayed in four counties  

According to Kibicho, the registration exercise will continue at the end of the 45-day period at selected national administration offices/CFM NEWS

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 4 – The roll-out of National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) failed to kick off in four counties on Wednesday due to delays in accrediting some 11,000 registration clerks.

An update issued by Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho on Thursday indicated that the exercise was delayed in Kisumu, Kwale, Lamu, and Tana River counties as technical teams worked to accredit registration assistants who were yet to be onboarded on the digital registration platform.

“Because of the huge number of registration assistants who had to be individually be onboarded to the kits avoid possible misuse, we had 11,000 of them who were unable to access the kits and that affected four counties,” the PS disclosed.

According to Kibicho, the registration exercise will continue at the end of the 45-day period at selected national administration offices.

The mass registration exercise targeting 1 million people in the next 45 days had, according to the interior ministry, seen 150,000 persons listed amid resistance from a section of civil society groups which have raised concerns over lack of data protection laws and infringement of privacy.

“We’ve managed to register 150,000 people despite numerous challenges that slowed the registration process in some centers,” Kibicho said.

He said a command center was in place to trouble shoot and resolve technical challenges reported by 42,000 registration officials.

“We have platforms through which reports can be relayed to a command center manned by national administration officials, system developers, and information communication technology experts responding to the technical challenges in the field,” Kibicho indicated.

The government has set aside Sh 5.7 billion for the registration exercise, Sh 1.7 billion of which has been spent on the acquisition of 31,500 electronic registration kits deployed in the registration exercise which will capture among other details finger prints of both national and aliens residing in the country.

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A three-judge High Court bench comprised of Justices Weldon Korir, Pauline Nyamweya and Mumbi Ngugi, had on Monday issued an order restraining the government from making the registration exercise mandatory, further directing the government not to set a deadline for the registration.

President Uhuru Kenyatta who commissioned NIIMS registration in Machakos on Tuesday however maintained the listing was mandatory saying access to government services will be pegged the NIIMS number.

“Ladies and gentlemen this is not a choice; it is a must. In future for all services including accessing the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) it is your NIIMS card that will identify you,” he said.

The directive by the Head of State ignited fresh concerns with those who fail to register in the new database risking being disenfranchised while seeking government services including replacing national identity cards, application and renewal of passports, birth certificate, and driving license.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNHCR), Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), and the Nubian Rights Forum, have filed petitions challenging the rollout of NIIMS citing the lack of a legal framework on data protection.

The government has defended the creation of a digital database saying it will ease access to service and enhance planning.

Orange Democratic Party leader Raila Odinga has hailed the government initiative to establish an integrated identity register as a key enabler to provision of government services.

“For the first time the government has acknowledged the need to know how many people live in the country who need to be served. This is the essence of giving Huduma Numbers so that the government can offer better services,” Odinga said on Tuesday when he graced the launch of NIIMS in Mombasa.

The former Prime Minister faulted lobby groups raising objection to the creation of the National Integrated Identification Management System (NIIMS).

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He also criticized Monday’s ruling by a three-judge bench of the High Court restraining the government forcing Kenyans to register on the new database pending determination of a suit.

“I know those who rushed to court did not understand the important of NIIMS. If there’s anything that should be compulsory is this registration exercise and that is the verdict I’d have given if I was a judge. The court has not understood this matter,” he said.

The Monday ruling inadvertently rendered the exercise non-obligatory with no clear timeline within which citizens are to enlist on NIIMS.

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