You will need ‘Huduma Namba’ to access Government services

Why a number of Kenyans are against Huduma Namba


Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang (facing camera from left), Uasin Gishu Deputy Governor Daniel Chemno, Uasin Gishu County Commissioner Abdi Hassan and Turbo Sub-County Administrator Wilson Sawe give their details to workers on Huduma Namba on February 18, 2019. /COURTESY

All Kenyans will need to be digitally registered by the government and issued with a Huduma identification number in order to access government’s services according to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s last month’s directive.

Uhuru on January said details of individuals including foreigners living in the country will be registered in a central database.

“For each registration, the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIMS) will generate a unique identification number which will be known as the Huduma number,
“To enhance the progress made by the Integrated Population Registration System, my administration will complete a central master population database which will be the authentic ‘single source of truth’ on personal identity in Kenya,” Uhuru said.

President’s orders took effect and the project was tested from a number of counties with the whole process expected to end in a month’s time.

In the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIMS), one has to get a unique identification number known as Huduma Namba and have their biometric data (fingerprints) recorded.

“…otherwise you will not be able to access any Government service,” the Immigration Department said on Twitter.

The project is set to use Ksh.6 billion tax payers money.

Pilot project

The government started testing the plan to register nearly 50 million Kenyans for the digital database on February 18, 2019.

Some of the counties in the pilot project include Kisii, Kisumu, Wajir Nairobi, Uasin Gishu, Kajiado, Baringo, Marsabit, Embu, Makueni, Busia, Nyandarua, Kiambu, Kilifi and Tana River.

Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said 31,500 kits have been distributed in readiness for the mass rollout covering the country’s 8,500 sub-locations next month.

Controversy hit the procurement of the biometric kits in July last year when it emerged that three companies were invited to bid instead of going through competitively.

Questions were raised on why the Sh3 billion tender was conducted through desk research.

The tender was eventually awarded to Idemia, a merger of Oberthur Technologies (OT) and Safran Identity & Security (Morpho), which supplied the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission with the Sh3.8 billion Kiems gadgets used to identify voters during the August 8, 2017 General Election.


The new ‘Huduma Namba’ has however raised issue  with a section of Kenyan lawyers questioning the Government’s motive behind the exercise.

According to them, data on Kenyan citizens already exists from birth certificates, IDs, passports and even voters card registration.

Critics say the costs involved in the project and how partners such as Mastercard were selected has not been made public.

“Our Government needs to be Fully transparent on Huduma Namba. Is it related to previous Huduma Card run by Mastercard? Where will all individual information under Huduma Namba be domiciled? By MasterCard, a foreign company? How safe is the info from Criminal & Terrorist Hackers?” Lawyer Donald Kipkorir posed.

Kipkirir further faulted the Government for not making public information on which technological system Huduma Numba runs on, who owns the application or how it addresses the right to privacy as engraved in the Constitution.

Waikwa Wanyoike, a former director at the Katiba Institute, accused the State of hiring a company in secret with no information as to how the data collected will be used or what it will be used for.

“There is no law to restrain rogue government officer if they decide to use our personal data for illegal purpose. There is simply no data law to protect the data, period!” he noted.

Wanyoike who now serves as a Litigation officer at the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSF) further questioned why Kenyans have to line up all day to provide data when the Government already holds sufficient registration information on them.

“Why not transfer what GoK has to NIIMS? Why would Bunge pass a law with such serious consequences using a sneaky and illegal Miscellaneous Amendment process?” he posed.

Renowned Economist David Ndii was quoted as saying, “There is no such thing as government services. They are public services and constitutional entitlements with or without Huduma Namba. We pay you to provide them. This colonial/dictatorship mentality is unacceptable.”

Ndii was responding to a tweet by Immigration Department that said one will not be able to access government’s services without the new number.

Deported lawyer Miguna Miguna also joined the debate, claiming the system could be used to “create fake IDs and voters’ cards for purposes of stealing elections and referenda.”


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