Owalo delinks Ruto’s National Digital Identity plan from Huduma Namba
ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo has moved to break the alleged connection between President William Ruto’s plan for National Digital Identity and the Jubilee government’s Huduma Namba.
Speaking on Thursday during the Digital Summit in Mombasa, the CS said the two are not the same.
“The National Digital Identity is not the same as Huduma Namba, we are not carrying that baggage,” Owalo said.
In January, President Ruto directed CS Owalo to work on a digital identity for every Kenyan as part of the digital superhighway. He said it was a way to revive the ‘dysfunctional’ Huduma Namba.
“In the next six months, 5000 government services will be online. Initially, they were 200 services online. I want to ask the ICT CS to work on Digital Identity. So the initially dysfunctional Huduma thing will be revived,” the president said.
“The Huduma-thing that never was must be a success. It’s not the work of the government to issue identification numbers, it is the work of the government to identify the citizens,” Ruto affirmed.
Since the announcement, there have been queries on how similar it is to the failed Huduma Namba plan.
Huduma Namba was initiated during the Jubilee regime, under former President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2019. It aimed to harmonize approaches that seek to address duplication of efforts and cut costs in registration processes.
On October 14, 2021, the High Court declared the Huduma Namba rollout illegal on grounds of being in conflict with the Data Protection Act, 2019.
Section 31 of the Data Protection Act requires data processing to be preceded by a data protection impact assessment to assess any data processing risks so that they can be mitigated. Delivering the verdict, Justice Jairus Ngaah observed that the assessment was not done before rolling out the Huduma Namba cards.
By October 2021, according to the former government Spokesperson Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna total of 11.2 million Huduma cards have been processed and 6.5 collected.
Ruto’s government has also announced plans to launch the Digital identity initiative.
The plan is to initiate a unique personal identifier at birth for all newborns in Kenya.
The identifier will be the child’s personal number. The same number will be used in the NEMIS program while in school and will be the national identification number when one reach the legal age of 18.
The number will also be used in NHIF and NSSF, as well as on the holder’s death certificate. The number shall expire upon death.