NAIROBI, Kenya, May 13 – The government has registered at least 31 million Kenyans on the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) dubbed Huduma Namba with nine million more set to be enlisted by May 18 when the mass registration exercise is scheduled to close.
Data released by a Cabinet sub-committee overseeing the exercise launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta on April 2 indicated the number of persons registered had almost doubled over the past two weeks.
The Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology had on April 26 put the number of persons listed on NIIMS at 18 million.
“This exercise has been ongoing now for five weeks and we registered about 65 per cent of our projected population. If we go with the daily average we’ve had especially on peak days we’re well on our way on registering 40 million Kenyans,” Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi who chairs the four-member Cabinet team announced on Monday.
According to Matiangi, 154 electronic registration kits had been dispatched to 54 Kenyan missions across the globe where the listing exercise will continue until June 20.
“We started active registrations in missions a bit late but reports indicate we’re doing well,” Matiangi who was flanked by Cabinet colleagues Joe Mucheru (ICT), Prof George Magoha (Education), Sicily Kariuki (Health), Mwangi Kiunjuri (Agriculture), and Attorney General Kihara Kariuki said.
Mucheru said an online portal from which Kenyan will be able to update their details on the NIIMS platform will be available by the end of July.
The committee announced the extension of working hours for registration officials ahead of the May 18 deadline to accommodate a projected increase in the number of people turning out to register.
Matiangi however ruled out an extension of the mass registration exercise citing budgetary implications.
He said national administration officials, particularly chiefs, will continue registering Kenyans “if and when they have time.”
The CS remained non-committal on whether access to government services will be pegged on the Huduma Namba saying Kenyans should take advantage and register to ease access to government service.
“I don’t understand why we want to continue doing this the old way. We’ve decided on how we want to proceed as a country,” Matiangi remarked.
A High Court ruling on April 1 had rendered Huduma Namba registration non-mandatory with Justices Weldon Korir, Pauline Nyamweya and Mumbi Ngugi ruling the government should not withhold services from persons who may not be registered on NIIMS.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNHCR), Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), and the Nubian Rights Forum, had filed petitions challenging the rollout of NIIMS citing the lack of a legal framework on data protection.
National administration officials have however on several occasions insisted the ongoing registration is mandatory.
Last week, Tana River County Commissioner Oning’oi Ole’sosio said those who will fail to register will be considered a threat to national security.
The Director General of the Communication Authority Francis Wangusi last month retracted a statement he had made at a public forum while drumming support for the mass registration implying that the agency would deregister telephone subscribers who fail to register for NIIMS.
President Kenyatta while commissioning NIIMS registration in Machakos on April 2 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.