Home Tech Kenya to Spend $108 Million on a Biometric Population Register

Kenya to Spend $108 Million on a Biometric Population Register

by Sam Wakoba
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The Kenya government is set to spend a whopping $108 million on biometric registration February next year bringing everyone into debt just to have a smart ID.

Spearheaded by Ms Mwende Gatabaki, the acting director-general of Kenya Citizens and Foreign Nationals Management Service, the Ksh 9 billion digital ID’s project will be funded by the government and private sector to help curb terrorism, cut tax evasion  and reduce crime and put away illegal immigrants.

Later in 2015, the government aims to move to update passports, logbooks to have everyone’s biometric data. Though the government says it will only spend Ksh 1 billion to have existing identification documents scanned and finger prints taken afresh, the move appears to be hugely mispalced.

A number of Kenyans are concerned that the governmentis pulling such a hopeless move. Majority say insecurity and terrorism are not technology challenges but stem from poverty and corruption. Having data taken digitally is the same having data taken manually, the records of who is Kenyan or not won’t help curb terrorism in any way, neither will they make a thief think stealing is bad.

Cashless payments were not introduced by the government and will never be propagated by it and just like the Nakuru Wi-Fi project where over Ksh 200 million was lost, Kenyans fear they will lose money in this project again.

In April 2013, the Kenyan govt pushed the International Monetary Fund ( IMF) for $108.5 million (Sh9 billion) loan, the similar amount being put on biometric ID’s which won’t carry anyother services like banking or payments but just identification. With declining tourism, a huge public-sector wage bill from devolution, poor health and education facilities and youth unemloyment the $108 million could have been put to better use.

Present national ID card holders will register for the smart IDs in February 2015 and receive them in October while new applicants will wait till July 2016 to have new cards. Though this move can help bring efficiency in the public sector, the issue of insecurity and crime might still happen because terrorists could still bribe officials to have the new set of IDs or even design their own.

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