President Uhuru Kenyatta when he officially launched the Huduma Namba countrywide registration exercise in Machakos county on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. Image: PSCU
By Gad Oteba/Editor @mkarimu.net
Huduma Namba, is a free government service and is expected to cost between Sh5 billion and Sh6 billion.
It is conducted by the National Integrated Identity Management system (NIIMS) and involves collecting biometric data after which the systems generates a unique number (Huduma Namba) which will enable one to access government services. Such services include applying for a driving license, ID, birth certificate among others.
What is unique about this number and why do we need it?
When we reach 18 years, everyone knows we got registered and applied for IDs manually. From the passport size photos to the fingerprints, copy of birth certifcate etc, they were all put together in one file and you were given an ID with a number which basically is like the file number (where your particulars and passport size photos are).
When you needed a government service, you would produce that ID as proof that you are actually a citizen and that there is a file in some corner of this republic with your details. The person looking at the ID has no way of verifying that the name and photo appearing on the ID is indeed you and that you are a citizen of Kenya.
Assuming they decide to go on with, say, registration for NHIF, you would need to produce a copy of your ID, two or more passport sized photographs so that they add you to another file, now for NHIF.
This process would be repeated everywhere else you went be it NSSF, to get a Driving License etc.
This meant there were many files all over the place with pieces of information about you and most of them in analogue format making sharing across Government Agencies and Departments a nightmare.
The new National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) seeks to consolidate all these files into one and in digital format. This would have been easier if they were in the same format but as we have established they aren’t.
What you need to get Huduma Namba
You need to visit a NIIMs registration centre with documents you have accumulated over the years from the Birth Certificate, ID, KRA PIN, NSSF, NHIF, Driving License, Passport etc so that they can be captured in one digital file which will be the single source of truth about you complete with your biometrics and digital photo.
Once that data is entered, it creates a file and the system will generate what is called a Huduma Namba basically like a file name and/or link to your digital file on NIIMS.
The NIIMS system will then be centrally located so that all Government agencies and Departments link to it.
All these documents are recorded in different databases so Huduma Namba consolidates the information to arrive at the ‘single source of truth’ regarding a Kenyan.
The government will use Huduma Namba as a tool in national planning, social services, project resource allocation and even project infrastructure.
The new system has a direct impact on not just service delivery but also national planning and security.
Once we are done, the Huduma Namba will be the only identification document you will need.
Without it, you will not access any government services that require documentation, just as you cannot do so without a national ID card.
Who is eligible to register for Huduma Namba?
The registration is for Kenyans aged six and above.
Short term visitors or tourists are not expected to acquire a Huduma Namba. The only non-citizens required to register are those with the status of workers, students and asylum seekers.
The countrywide mass registration begins on March 15 after data from the pilot is analysed, logistics sorted out and last minute teething problems dealt with.
The mass registration will run for 45 days.
After the registration, the gadgets will be left with the chiefs to continue registering births, deaths, marriages, and any other updates. There will be a process for the updates.
Single identification numbers have been used in the West to help governments plan; disburse benefits such as welfare, healthcare, housing and agriculture.
The government hopes Huduma Namba will play a similar role in channelling resources to the elderly, school children, the disabled, members of the proposed housing fund, small and medium enterprises and farmers.
It also hopes the number would aid in combating fraud. It could also help check the unwanted entry into the country by foreigners in the wake of terrorist threats and attacks.