Maisha Number: Details Of New Digital ID Replacing Normal IDs And Huduma Number From October

  • Maisha number will be issued in phases
  • It will be a lifetime number that will be used to access all government services.

The government is launching new Digital IDs dubbed Maisha numbers to replace the failed Huduma number project of the Uhuru regime.

The project, which will be launched by the president on September 29, was recommended and approved by the National Digital Identity Technical Committee.

The team, which is led by Julius Bitok – the Principal Secretary for Immigration and Citizenship – says that the project is intended to support the consumption of the government’s e-services by minimizing frauds and forgeries with the issuance of new digital IDs with updated security features.

Unique Number

According to Mr. Bitok, the government will do away with normal IDs starting September 30th and issue every Kenyan citizen who has attained the age of 18 a new Digital ID called a Maisha Card.

The card will be used when applying for NHIF, filing KRA returns, and other government services.

The Maisha card will be an updated form of the normal second-generation ID, which will also be available online for easy access if one does not carry a physical copy.

Additionally, newborn babies will be issued a unique Maisha Number, which will be their birth certificate number, school identification number, university identification number, ID number when they turn 18, KRA PIN, and death certificate number upon their demise.

Bitok explained that, unlike the Huduma Number, the Maisha card will not require fresh registration by Kenyans.

Instead, it will be an upgrade from the second-generation ID card and the necessary information will be extracted from government databases.

“We want a master population register that is integrated to the extent that whenever someone applies for a passport, the system should be able to tell if that person has a birth certificate and an ID so that we have accuracy in our identity management systems,” he said.

He added that the project will be rolled out in phases, starting with those applying for Identity cards for the first time and those seeking duplicates for lost IDs. The current IDs will be phased out within the next 3-5 years.

The process of switching from Huduma Number to Maisha Number will cost the government approximately sh 1 billion, according to Mr. Bitok.

Difference From Huduma Number

One distinct feature that makes the Maisha card distinct from the Huduma number is that the Maisha card will have a Machine-Readable Zone (MRZ).

The MRZ is used by machines to quickly and accurately read and verify the identity of the document holder at border crossings, airports, and other places where identity verification is required.

The MRZ is an important security feature that helps to prevent identity fraud. It is difficult to counterfeit or alter, and it makes it easier for authorities to verify the identity of document holders.

According to Raymond Omollo, the CS for Interior Administration, the government will not force Kenyans to adopt the new digital IDs.

Huduma number failure

Huduma number, which was one of Uhuru’s signature projects, was mired in controversy amid fears of privacy breaches of Kenyans’ data.

To add salt to injury, a 2019 court order barred the government from collecting citizen’s DNA, forcible listing, and locking out those who had not registered for Huduma Number from government services.

This meant that there was no difference between Kenyans who had Huduma numbers and those who did not.

There has also been low uptake of Huduma Numbers in Huduma centres and other government offices, with over 50% of Kenyans yet to pick the cards.

Earlier this year, President Ruto’s government slashed Huduma Number’s budgeting by 84%, signifying the beginning of the end of the project that cost Kenyans approximately Sh 10 billion according to Business Daily.