Kenya and UNDP Collaborate to Enhance Digital Identity Infrastructure
Kenya has taken a significant step forward in bolstering its Digital Identity infrastructure by entering into a cooperative framework with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The partnership, aimed at supporting the development of the country’s digital identity system, encompasses resource mobilization, technical advisory services, and project monitoring. This collaboration was officially announced following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Nairobi on Monday.
Julius Bitok, Principal Secretary of Immigration and Citizen Services, emphasized the strategic importance of the MoU for the implementation of a Unique Personal Identifier (UPI) named Maisha Namba. This UPI will serve as the foundation for the Digital ID initiative. Bitok outlined the collaborative effort to enhance existing registration and identity management practices by addressing gaps in the current systems and harnessing digital solutions, including mobile and web applications.
Bitok highlighted that the program’s outcomes will extend beyond infrastructure development.
The digital identity initiative is expected to facilitate global online commercial opportunities for citizens by providing a secure, tamper-proof, and authenticated digital identity. Furthermore, the initiative is set to enhance citizens’ access to their constitutional, human, and legal identity rights.
The commitment of the Kenyan government to digital transformation was reiterated by Bitok, who underlined the shift towards digitization of government services. The official unveiling of both the Maisha Namba UPI and the Digital ID is scheduled for October 2, a milestone that Bitok expressed confidence in achieving.
UNDP Resident Representative Anthony Ngororano, a co-signatory of the MoU alongside Bitok, commended the Kenyan government’s forward-looking approach.
Ngororano praised the efforts to digitize services and stressed the importance of Kenya keeping pace with the global digital landscape. He acknowledged the collaborative effort between the government and non-state actors and expressed confidence in the comprehensive societal approach to realizing the digital identity program.
In January 2023, President William Ruto issued a directive to the Ministry of ICT to reinvigorate efforts to provide Kenyans with digital identities. This directive aligned with the government’s broader plan to digitize 5,000 services. During the Data Privacy Day commemoration at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), President Ruto emphasized the need for digital identification in conjunction with the digitization of government services.
President Ruto’s directive aims to establish a digital identity system, ultimately replacing the previously launched Huduma Namba in 2019. The new digital identity initiative holds the potential to reshape Kenya’s digital landscape and enhance citizens access to services and rights.