In Kenya, New Born Babies To Get National IDs In Controversial Policy Shift


The Kenya government is working on a controversial programme that would see Kenyans acquire national identity cards  at birth. The government says it will in March this year launch a Unique Personal Identifier (UPI) that will capture and register all new born babies at birth – and also capture deaths as well.

The UPI will generate a unique personal number for new born babies which will later be used in schools and colleges. Interestingly, the special number will also be used as an identification card and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) PIN and to access services such as National Health Insurance Fund, reports the Kenya News Agency (KNA).

The Principal Secretary for Immigration and Citizen Services Amb. Julius Bittok said the introduction of the unique identifier will end the national census as the new technology will provide more accurate data on the country’s population.

It is not clear how this UPI will work and transition into the current system where national IDs are issued only when one attains the age of 18 years, the presumable maturity age for eligibility to vote and employment.

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Also, there is the unresolved issue of Huduma Number, which was proposed and partly implemented by the Uhuru Kenyatta administration to consolidate all identities including national ID and government functions. “The Kenya Kwanza government has put the citizenry at the core, by putting the digital transformation first, and this will change many things in our country,” Mr Bittok said on the UPI concept.

The PS was speaking on 15th January during the opening of a training workshop on the rollout of the Unique Personal Identifier for all regional and county birth and death registration officers held at the Kenya School of Government in Kabete, Nairobi.

Amb. Bittok stated that the number of births being registered are at 86% while deaths stand at 60%, noting that with the digitization these numbers are expected to increase to at least 90%.

He expressed confidence that UPI model that was borrowed from Estonia will eliminate vetting and discrimination of registration at the border counties, as well as allow every Kenyan to get services from the government-run eCitizen portal.

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“UPI will confirm during registration whether a child is a Kenyan when the information details of the parents is populated at the eCitizen portal.  The UPI number can be decoded to show if the child is a boy or girl when they are born,” said the PS.

The PS who called upon the registration officers to ensure that they capture all the birth and deaths in their areas of jurisdiction and said that the government has already made arrangements with hospitals on how to record the information.

The number of births being registered are at 86% while deaths stand at 60%, noting that with the digitization these numbers are expected to increase to at least 90%.

He singled out “accuracy, efficiency and tightening of loose ends” in revenue collection that comes with the manual system as some of the benefits that accrue from the UPI system.  “The digital transformation will also capture monies and revenues paid to the government.”

Bittok announced that the government has partnered with Web Master, a Kenyan private company to capture the services in the eCitizen platform.

The government’s plan is to have all the 5000 government services uploaded on the eCitizen platform by 30th June this year.

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